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BEYEREN, Abraham van/ ARTISTS 1650-1899/ ART MAIN home

Dutch painter (b. 1620, Den Haag, d. 1690, Overschie)

Dutch painter (also spelled Beijeren or Beieren), little regarded in his day but now considered one of the greatest of still-life painters. He initially specialized in fish subjects, but around the middle of the 17th century he began to devote himself to sumptuous banquet tables laden with silver and gold vessels, Venetian glassware, fine fruit, and expensive table coverings of damask, satin, and velvet. Works of this kind, in which he was rivalled only by Kalf, gave him even greater opportunity than his fish pieces to demonstrate his ability to show the play of light on varied surfaces and organize forms and colours into an opulently blended composition. He worked in various towns before settling in Overschie in 1678.

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The Breakfast
The Breakfast
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Oil on canvas, 74 x 60 cm
Pushkin Museum, Moscow
Mauritshuis, The Hague
Still-Life with Lobster    
Still-life with Lobster
1653
Oil on canvas, 125,5 x 105,1 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Beyeren - Still-life with Fishes  
Still-life with Fishes
Oil on canvas, 125 x 153 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden
Van Beyeren's fish pieces seldom attract as much attention as his sumptuous banquet tables. Most people would rather study a picture of an exquisitely laid table than one of a mess of fish. But van Beyeren's celebrations of the abundance of the sea are as remarkable as his festive dinner tables. In them he sometimes includes a glimpse of a beach in the background. The fish and crustacea he painted always look wet - they appear to have been just taken from the water - and the mother-of pearl greys of his creatures of the sea, their browns, silvers, and white are as delicate and finely felt as the colour accords in his more showy pieces.
Banquet Still-Life with a Mouse
Banquet Still-Life with a Mouse
1667
Oil on canvas
County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
 
Abraham van Beyeren, the third outstanding master of pronk still-lifes, like Jan Davidsz de Heem, who seems to have inspired him, painted sumptuous compositions of lobsters, fruit, and expensive tableware, and included rich draperies and columns to enhance the splendid effect. Van Beyeren, however, hardly ever overloads his compositions in the way that de Heem does; on the other hand, he seldom shows Kalf's moderation. At his best, he is a subtle colourist who works in a light key, with an appealing free and liquid touch. A soft silvery light unifies his fine colour harmonies, anticipating the palette of eighteenth-century painters.
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