125
125

THE PROPERTY OF A LADY

Hubert van Ravesteyn
STILL LIFE OF WALNUTS IN A WAN-LI PORCELAIN BOWL, A GLAZED EARTHENWARE JUG, AND A PIPE AND SMOKING MATERIALS ON A PARTLY DRAPED TABLE
Estimation
40 00060 000
Lot. Vendu 100,000 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
125

THE PROPERTY OF A LADY

Hubert van Ravesteyn
STILL LIFE OF WALNUTS IN A WAN-LI PORCELAIN BOWL, A GLAZED EARTHENWARE JUG, AND A PIPE AND SMOKING MATERIALS ON A PARTLY DRAPED TABLE
Estimation
40 00060 000
Lot. Vendu 100,000 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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Hubert van Ravesteyn
DORDRECHT 1638 - 1691
STILL LIFE OF WALNUTS IN A WAN-LI PORCELAIN BOWL, A GLAZED EARTHENWARE JUG, AND A PIPE AND SMOKING MATERIALS ON A PARTLY DRAPED TABLE
signed in monogram lower centre: HR and dated on the tobacco wrapper: Ao 1670
oil on canvas, oval, reduced from a rectangle
60 x 50 cm.; 23 5/8  by 19 3/4  in.
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Provenance

H.D. Blyth-Engeland;
His sale, London, Christie's, 26 July 1878, lot 2524;
Dr. T. Praalder;
His sale, New York, Sotheby's, 9 January 1981, lot 32;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 8 July 1988, lot 45 (for £110,000).

Bibliographie

N.R.A. Vroom, De schilders van het monochrome banketje, Amsterdam 1945, cat. no. 247, reproduced fig. 162;
N.R.A. Vroom, A Modest Message as intimated by the painters of the 'Monochrome Banketje', Schiedam 1980, vol. II, p. 108, cat. no. 545, reproduced.

Description

From the 1660s onwards Hubert van Ravesteyn abandoned the simple fruit and vegetable still lifes of his early career for an altogether more elegant style of still life, in which expensive Chinese porcelain bowls and white stoneware vessels are set on velvet tablecloths. Typically set against a dark neutral background and lit in a distinctive cool light, these careful and subdued arrangements reveal Ravesteyn's exacting precision in the depiction of the smallest details, and his keen interest in the play of light across surfaces and textures as different as the walnuts and the polished stoneware jug. Here the composition is further enlivened by the inclusion of a Gouda clay pipe and the striking visual element of a packet of tobacco, whose linear forms contrast cleverly with the rounded contours of the porcelain bowl, the nuts and the jug. It is not known where Ravesteyn derived the inspiration for such works, but still lifes painted in a similar vein in Amsterdam in the mid-century by Jan Jansz. van de Velde (c. 1627–72) and Jan Fris (1619–63) suggest that he may have spent a period in that city.

Ravesteyn frequently re-used several of the objects used in these still lifes, and this canvas is one of two closely related versions of this composition that he painted. The second, of similar size, signed and dated 1671, is in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.1 This differs in the arrangement of the scattered walnuts on the table top, and in the handle of the jug, which is turned further towards the viewer. In both canvases a packet of tobacco is prominent, and their inscriptions identify them as the ware of Gerrit Marschal, who was a taback vercooper (tobacco seller) in Ravesteyn's home town of Dordrecht. The white clay pipe is similarly common to both works, and was made in Gouda, and thence exported throughout Europe. Taken together these elements suggest that Ravesteyn's subject was a distillation of the simple pleasures of smoking tobacco and drinking wine, by 1670 a ubiquitous pastime throughout the Netherlands. Nevertheless, a gentle warning is perhaps intended by the walnuts, which may reflect the artist's familiarity with a print in Joris Hoefnagel's Archetypa (1592) in which they appear with a humorous Latin epigram: 'Alea parva Nuces, et non damnosa videtur; Saepe tamen pueris abstulit illa nates' (gambling with nuts [often used as dice] is thought to be a harmless game, but it has also raised welts [like the bumps on the walnuts]).

1 Oil on canvas, 66 x 50 cm.; see A. Chong et al., Still-life paintings from the Netherlands 1550–1720, exh. cat., Zwolle 1999, pp. 267–68, cat. no. 71, reproduced in colour p. 269.

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