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Pseudo van Kessel

Late 16th century – early 17th century

The name used to identify the work of this anonymous master illustrates the confusion that has long existed in relation to the artist. Often compared with Jan van Kessel, this painter generally produced banketjes on small-format copper panels, executed with a precision of brushwork and sense of detail typical of the Flemish school. In addition to this comparison, clear references to the work of artists such as Osias Beert and Jacob van Es are also discernible. The open, legible compositions are markedly focused on the effects of symmetry and perspective.

The artist’s varied body of work depicts a wide range of objects, and it is precisely the choice of certain elements with Mediterranean connotations, as well as the atmosphere of austere elegance that they exude, that suggests that this still unknown artist’s origins or influences were distinctly Latin. An inscription in Italian “Raffo Morghen originale flammengo” on one of his paintings identifies the painter as the Flemish emigré in Italy, Raffaelo Morghen, a figure to whom no other painting has been attributed with certainty to date. Another possible identity has been suggested as that of Gotthard de Wedig (Cologne, 1583-1641); however this theory appears difficult to sustain at present. As the artist’s body of work is continually being fleshed out as new paintings appear on the market, it is likely that it will soon be possible to establish the name of one of the most original and delightful still life painters of the seventeenth century, who followed directly in the footsteps of the greatest of the precursors of this pictorial genre.