PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
Anonymous sale ('The Property of a Gentleman'), London, Sotheby's, 9 July 1998, lot 39.
The scion of a wealthy family, Floris is recorded as a traveller in Italy in 1606 before joining the Haarlem Guild of Painters in 1610. His recognised œuvre is important and of very high quality, but it is also quite small, which suggests that either he did not necessarily need to paint for a living, or else he was a painstaking and unhurried painter. About a dozen works by his hand are known, with dates ranging from 1610 to 1628. The majority are of much the same size as the present work, around 45 by 75 cm., and all but one (the canvas from 1622) are similarly on panel. Only six other pictures are dated: two, one in a private collection and the other sold in these Rooms, 8 December 2004, lot 16, were painted in 1610, the year of his admission to the Haarlem Guild; one in 1613, now in the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem; another of 1615 or 1616 formerly with Otto Naumann Ltd, New York; and the last two in 1622 and 1628, now at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and a private collection respectively. Another panel, sold in these Rooms, 14 December 2000, lot 25, is indistinctly dated 161[?5] and is included as lot... in this sale.
Because of the rarity of signed and dated works, it is not easy to date the present painting precisely within Van Dijck's œuvre. The closest parallels with the securely dated group are unquestionably to be found with the painting of 1613 in Haarlem (fig. 1)1. This incorporates many of the objects and arrangements that are to be found in the present picture, for example the two cheeses piled on a pewter dish, the grapes, bread roll, roemer, knife and walnuts, all displayed on a white damask cloth laid upon a red rug. As Fred Meijer has observed, the objects in these still lifes mix freely the expensive or exotic with the more ordinary. The Wan-li porcelain bowl, for example, no doubt brought to the Netherlands by the Dutch East India Company, and the façon de Venise wine glass with its elaborate stem made more locally in Antwerp or Liège, would have been quite valuable items, but the roemer and pewter plates were simple everyday ware. Van Dijck seems to have been careful not to repeat motifs from one picture to another, and indeed his style seems to have developed little over his career, with little variation in general composition. His later works tend to be more opened out, with sparser and freer compositions and the objects seen at a greater distance from the viewer. Thus although the present panel is less crowded than the two works of 1610, it most likely pre-dates the well-known and more expansive panel in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam from the end of the same decade.2
1 Inv. no. 79, reproduced in E. Gemar-Koeltzsch, Holländischer Stillebenmaler im 17. Jahrhundert, Lingen 1995, vol. II, p. 292, no. 98/2.
2 Inv. A4821. Exhibited Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, Dawn of the Golden Age. Northern Netherlandish Art 1580–1620, 1993–94, no. 276.
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