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Lot 3032* - A206 Old Master Paintings - Friday, 22. September 2023, 02.00 PM


(Berchem circa 1597– circa 1661 Haarlem)
Still life with bread, a Roemer and a Berkemeyer glass lying on its side, a plate with olives, a knife, and oysters with salt and pepper on a pewter plate on a table. 1642.
Oil on panel.
Monogrammed and dated lower left: PC.1642.
35.1 × 50.3 cm.

Dr Martina Brunner-Bulst, 14.7.2023.

- Collection of Paulus Creulz. Berger, 1642 (inscription verso).
- Private collection.
- Sale Christie's London, 8.10.1976, Lot 16.
- With Alfred Brod Gallery, London, 1977.
- Private collection of Mr and Mrs J. Seward Johnson.
- Sale Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 8.1.1981, Lot 9.
- Sale Christie's, New York, 15.1.1985, Lot 36.
- Private collection, George Gerard Arnhold.
- Sale Christie's, New York, 19.4.2018, Lot 12.
- European collection.

Maastricht 1977, Pictura, no. 1977/10 (advertisement Brod Gallery, London).

- Advertisement Brod Gallery, Apollo, CV, May 1977, p. 400 (ill.).
- Advertisement Brod Gallery, Die Weltkunst, XLVII, June 1977, p. 1147 (ill.).
- N. R. A. Vroom: A Modest Message, as intimated by the painters of the Monochrome Banketje, Schiedam 1980, vol. I, p. 155, vol. II, p. 51, no. 242 (as Franchoys Elaut).
- N. R. A. Vroom: A Modest Message, as intimated by the painters of the Monochrome Banketje, Nürnberg 1999, vol. III, p. 63, no. 51 (as Franchoys Elaut).

Pieter Claesz was probably the most well-known of the Haarlem still life painters in the first half of the 17th century. He was born around 1597 in Berchem, near Antwerp. Unfortunately, little is known about his initial artistic training, but his early works clearly show the influence of the Antwerp masters Osias Beert (1580–1624) and Clara Peeters (1594–1658). After a career spanning forty years, Pieter Claesz died in 1660 at the age of 63, leaving behind an oeuvre of some 260 still lifes.

In the ‘Ontbijtje’ still life of 1642 presented here, we see the painter at the height of his artistic powers. The painting before us shows the artist's unique style, which is reflected in the ‘monochrome banquetje’ (monochrome still life). The use of a limited range of colours and objects, which makes his still lifes particularly striking, is characteristic of this artist. With virtuoso skill, Claesz depicted materials such as silver and gold, pewter, ceramics, glass, and various foodstuffs, which he illuminated with a bright invisible source of light.

One of the prominent elements in this still life are the oysters placed on the right of the pewter plate. Pieter Claesz’s oeuvre includes 38 still lifes of oysters. The earliest of these paintings is dated 1624 and appears to be the first still life of oysters painted in Haarlem. The oysters depicted here in their shiny mother-of-pearl beds are painted with flowing brushstrokes in white, grey, and ochre, as well as minimal shades of pink and blue. The insides of the shells are contrasted by the brown greys of the outsides and, with their restrained colours and representation of wealth, are perfectly suited to the monochrome style of this painter. As such, oysters were not only an extremely prized food, but were also seen as an aphrodisiac and often presented on richly decorated tables in paintings depicting mythological scenes and pagan festivals of the gods.

Each item is impeccably placed in the composition. This painting belongs to a group of still lifes from the early 1640s characterised by the artist's careful arrangement of the objects, culminating finally in a single monumental rummer. Particularly striking is the horizontal profile of the other objects in the composition, which underlines, by means of contrast, the towering size of the Roemer. In this mature phase, Pieter Claesz usually dispensed with the voluminous white napkin, which was otherwise rarely missing from his paintings. Through the remarkable modelling of the objects depicted, Claesz succeeds in making the simple meal appear as if it were a rich banquet.

The painting is archived in the RKD, The Hague, as a work by the hand of Pieter Claesz.

CHF 200 000 / 250 000 | (€ 206 190 / 257 730)