de jonckheere old masters

Jan van Kessel

’Banketje’ with ‘kraak’ china bowls, containing raspberries and brambles, flowers in a bronze vase, chaffinch and butterfly

Copper: 16,4 x 21,9 cm


The theme of the banketje, or the art of generously garnished tables, is incontestably the subject in which Jan van Kessel excels. With rhythm and harmony, the painter carefully arranges the various elements necessary for the banquet on a table. The bowls of fruit, bunches and baskets of flowers, not to mention the small pilfering animals, are all motifs that are necessary to the balance of each of his paintings. Our delightful banketje is composed of ‘kraak’ china bowls, filled with delicious raspberries and wild brambles. ’Kraak’ china was a widely exported high-quality china produced in the kilns of Jingdezhen under the reign of the Ming emperor, Wanli (1563-1620). Here, Kessel portrays beautiful examples of this china whose whiteness and decorative elements contrast fabulously with the rusticity of the dishes and the composition’s layout.

If we read the painting like a music score, the skill and the richness of the elements selected by the painter become quite evident. Bowls of raspberries and brambles share the table with plates of walnuts and hazelnuts. A bronze vase containing a modest bunch of varied flowers, as well as a peach and several cherries, are strewn around the table. And as usual, the artist includes elements of the animal kingdom in his depiction of the plant world; here, a butterfly and a chaffinch have come to rummage among the fruit and flowers, the objects of their desire.

With grace and delicacy, Jan van Kessel invites us to a wonderful feast in this banketje. From one painting to another, without ever repeating himself, Jan van Kessel charmed the art-lovers of his time with this free and enamelled touch which characterises his work. The finesse of the execution and the chromatic harmonies all contribute to the success of this work: the warm and vibrant colours of the fruit and the sober arrangement make this banketje a particularly appealing and precious work.

Provenance :
Anonymous sale, Christie’s, London, 22 April 1988, lot 65;
Collection of M. J. Boon;
Private collection.