Friday, March 1, 2013

Heem, Jan Davidsz de

A Table of Desserts (La Desserte)
oil on canvas,
149 x 203 cm (58.7 x 79.9 in.)
Musee du Louvre, Paris, France

Three centuries after, Henri Matisse painted "Still Life after Jan Davidsz. de Heem's La Desserte". (see Feb.28 exhibit)

Jan Davidsz. de Heem (c.1606 - 1684) was one of the greatest painters of still life in the Netherlands, combining a brilliance and harmony of color along with an accurate rendering of objects: flowers, in all their variety; European and tropical fruits; lobsters and oysters; butterflies and moths; stone and metal; snails and sea shells.

Heem was born in Utrecht. He studied first under his father, then under Balthasar van der Ast. Later he worked in Leiden and showed that he had studied the restrained and simple works of the Haarlem still-life artists. In 1636 he moved to Antwerp, became a citizen of that city in 1637, and spent most of his very productive life there. The paintings he did in Flanders are the ones for which he is most renowned and are very different in spirit from his earlier works: splendid flower pieces and large compositions of exquisitely laid tables which breathe all the opulent exuberance of Flemish Baroque painting.

His remarkable talent had gained him a considerable reputation. He could hardly satisfy the demand. His sons worked together with him in his workshop on the commissions for new paintings. he retouched their work and put his signature on the paintings. His work formed a link between the Dutch and Flemish still-life traditions. He is a major representative of that genre in both Dutch and Flemish Baroque painting.