ARTISTS BEFORE 1650/
painter (b. cca. 1580, Antwerpen, d.
|Painter of still-life and flower pieces. Beert became a master in
Antwerp in 1602 and also carried on business as a cork merchant.
He is specially noted for his paintings of oysters, which show a
masterly feeling for colour and texture.
with Cherries and Strawberries in China Bowls (Detail)
Oil on panel, 50 x 65,5 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
The composition of
this dessert still-life
represents an early phase of this genre. The picture shows two
precious Chinese porcelain bowls from the Wan Li dynasty
(1573-1619) - modern import products at the time - filled with
strawberries and cherries, as well as a pewter plate full of
olives, and several goblets. The surface of the table seems tilted
in an old-fashioned way so as to allow an unobstructed view of the
various luxury objects which have been depicted with hard
precision and without atmospheric density.
We are looking at
the last or penultimate course of an eight to nine-course banquet.
The knife in the foreground, still largely the only piece of
cutlery at the time, was shared by all the participant of the
feast. The dragonfly and the butterfly add an emblematic dimension
to this everyday motif. The artist shows the forces of good and
evil fighting for man's soul in the form of animals. The human
soul is represented by strawberries and cherries, which were
considered to be fruits of Paradise. The butterfly, as a symbol of
salvation and resurrection, is in opposition to the dragonfly
which was seen as a subspecies of the common fly. Flies were
considered to be creatures of the devil.
with Oysters and Pastries
Oil on copper, 46,6 x 66 cm
traditional principle of depicting isolated bowls, baskets and
vases can also be found in the paintings of Osias Beert. He
enjoyed placing a raised silver bowl with sugar confectionery or a
loaf of marzipan in the centre. One example is his Stuttgart
still-life, which also contains a tin plate full of oysters in the
top left corner, as well as olives floating in oil and a ceramic
vessel as big as a saucepan filled with chestnuts, and lemons at
The picture shows a still-life of plums, nuts and apples,
raspberries and sweetmeats in three blue-and-white porcelain bowls,
together with grapes on a pewter dish, a façon-de-venise goblet,
wine-glasses and a piece of bread, all arranged on a wooden table.
The present work is entirely typical of the 'laden table' still-lifes
with their elevated viewpoint that Beert himself had pioneered
during the first two decades of the 17th century.
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