What is healthier than a plate of apples, grapes, raspberries, apricots, gooseberries, walnuts and plums? A scrumptious vegetarian elixir of carbs, antioxidants, fiber, proteins and fats. It’s unlikely the Flemish artist Osias Beert had this in mind when he painted this abundant Still Life in the early decades of the 1600s … almost 400 years ago! More likely he selected his props based on their novelty and appeal for a greater chance of selling his painting to the rich merchants of Flanders and Spain.
In 1609, the Twelve-Year Truce was signed between Spain and Holland ending decades of conflict and reviving the economy of the Low Countries. It was under this economic scenario that Beert painted this work.
Like some of today’s contemporary art, Beert’s still life is not about perfect realism or optimal perspective (after all, his is pretty quirky), however, it is about composition, carefully placing plates, glasses and strewn fruit to form intersecting diagonals that add balance to his infinitely divine composition.
Photo credit: © Sotheby’s. The present Still Life to be sold in the Old Master sale, London, 6 July 2011, lot 24, estimate ₤250,000-350,000.
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