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de jonckheere old masters

Jan van Kessel the Younger

Pair of still lifes: Basket of fruits with melon, lemons, cherries and pomegranate on a table, accompanied by a parrot and a squirrel; Vase of flowers, bunches of grapes and pumpkin on a table with two hamsters and a macaw

Coppers: 16,5 x 21,5 cm

introduction

These two naturalistic paintings bring a fresh perspective to the vogue for still lifes in 17th-century Antwerp. Greatly appreciated by his contemporaries, Jan van Kessel’s works, abundant with exotic animals and rare plants, were much sought after by collectors. With a confident and dynamic hand, the painter carefully details every element, which he arranges in balanced and harmonious assemblies that clearly stand out from the dark background.

The abundance reigning on these stone tables is remarkably rendered by the use of a rich and varied palette. A range of breathtaking greens sublimate the warm tones of vermillion and ochre. The painter excels in the depiction of a wide variety of materials and surfaces, equally mastering downy fur, the roughness of a lemon and the bumps of a pomegranate that has reached maturity. With a spirited touch of white, van Kessel accentuates the lighting effects on the pictorial surface and the copper, where subtle reflections underline the roundness of a grape or a perfectly smooth cherry. By superimposing fine layers of paint using the glaze technique, he achieves an astounding realism. Not without humour and an invitation for detail, the paintings are home to small animals caught red-handed in their greediness, such as these hamsters and this mischievous squirrel. In each work, a beautiful parrot with colourful plumage watches over the victuals and the guests, while the small butterflies fluttering about add a light touch. The brilliance of execution and the gentle atmosphere therein, make this pair of still lifes a precious work that will delight the most informed art-lovers.

Provenance :
Private collection, France