1607 – Dordrecht – 1669-77
A Pair of Fruit Still Lifes
Both oil on oak panel, one 24.2 x 36.6 cm
The other 24.5 x 36.6 cm
Both signed and dated lower left: “B. AsstEijn. / 1633.”
Private collection, England, 1984
With Galerie de Jonckheere, Brussels, 1994
Private collection, Italy
London, John Mitchell & Sons, The Inspiration of Nature, 1976, nos. 1-2
Pairs, Carrousel du Louvre, XVIIème Biennale des Antiquaires, 1994, nos. 51-52
These two charming panels are one of the very few preserved pairs by Bartholomeus Assteyn. One shows an assortment of apricots, cherries, currants, a peach, and a pink rose. The pendant also features a rose, supplemented with the same selection of fruit, and a pear.
A Dordrecht master, Assteyn took his cue from his colleagues of the so-called Bosschaert Dynasty, of whom Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573-1621), originally from Antwerp, was the foremost exponent and a leading pioneer of still life painting. Another artist from this group, whose work served Assteyn as a source of inspiration, was Bosschaert’s pupil Balthasar van der Ast (1593/94-1657), who worked successively in Bergen-op-Zoom, Utrecht and Delft.
Assteyn’s productive career spans a long period, his earliest still life being of 1628 and his lasted dated of 1669. A remark by Arnold Houbraken in his second volume of the Groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen of 1719 clarifies that Assteyn must have been enormously productive, his works being as ubiquitous as those by Joost Droochsloot. Nowadays, however, Assteyn’s oeuvre is exceptionally small, counting no more than 27 paintings, the present pair included. Assteyn painted baskets of fruit, vases of flowers and game. All his paintings are signed and dated. These small works are notable for their understated palette and naïve charm going hand in hand with the master’s habitual close attention to detail.