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de jonckheere old masters

Jan van Kessel

Still life with a water melon, a bowl of grapes, peaches, plums and birds

Copper: 19,7 x 27,2 cm

introduction

Thanks to his free and decorative touch, Jan van Kessel always succeeds in seducing lovers of his works with his small and finely detailed banketjes. This generous Still life with a water melon, a bowl of grapes, peaches, plums and birds is an interesting example of the genre.

Arranged on a wooden table are a basket of plums, two pieces of red water melon, and a plate of white and red grapes with two or three apples. The central motif is also counterbalanced by a few pieces of fruit scattered here and there. Animating the scene are birds and the essential butterfly in flight. They stand out from the dark background, whose intentional austerity ennobles the fruit’s intense colours. Van Kessel doesn't simply content himself with studying the fruit’s transparency and meticulously reproducing it, he carefully and precisely paints the decorations on the precious china dish containing the fruit. This motif can be seen in a good number of his compositions; as in this still life, the butterfly flutters above an elegant china dish.

The artist has excellent observation skills as proven by the chromatic harmonies of his coppers, his preferred medium.

Kessel’s compositions are simple and sober, and full of sensitivity and softness, but never repetitive. All the small hidden details, like the discreet apricots and the pomegranate in the background, make this still life an appealing and precious work.

Provenance :
Private collection, Great Britain