Still-lifes Acquired by the National Gallery in Washington

1. Jacob van Hulsdonck (1582 - 1647)
Wild Strawberries and Carnation
in a Wan-Li Bowl
, c. 1620
Oil on Copper - 28.3 × 36.2 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art

9/9/13 - Acquisitions - Washington, National Gallery of Art - Several still-lifes from the 17th and 18th centuries joined the collections at the National Gallery in Washington in 2012 and 2013. One, Wild Strawberries and Carnation in a Wan-Li Bowl (ill. 1) was painted on copper around 1620 by the Flemish artist, Jacob van Hulsdonck. It was sold at auction for £361,250 to the American museum at Sotheby’s London on 5 December 2012.
The painter treats the color red depicting different kinds of fruit - cherries, redcurrants, strawberries - while the carnation occupies the upper portion of the composition. The porcelain provides a contrast as well as a visual reference, acting as a focal point on which the composition is centered, while the butterfly and the green leaves into which it blends in fact, bring life to the ensemble. The neutral background, the frontal disposition, the studied dispersion of the elements and the carefully wrought execution can be found in other paintings by the artist. This composition is however more understated and elegant than that of another work in which the artist multiplied the number of carnations.
Van Hulsdonck trained in Middelburg where he was probably influenced by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, before returning to his hometown, Antwerp ; he became master of Saint Luke’s guild in 1608 and probably saw the works of Osias Beert. The motif of the strawberries in a porcelain bowl, accompanied by a flower and sometimes a butterfly can be seen in many artists, such as the Antwerp native Frans Snyders or Adriaen Coorte who was active in Middelburg from 1683 to 1707, as well as Sebastien Stoskopff.

2. Peter Binoit (active around 1611-1627)
Still-life with Tulips, 1623
Oil on Copper - 24.1 × 19 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art

3. Peter Binoit (active around 1611-1627)
Still-life with Irises, 1623
Oil on Copper - 24.1 × 19 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art

A contemporary of Van Hulsdonck, Peter Binoit, born in Cologne of a father from Tournai, painted, also on copper, in 1623, two bouquets which form a pair and which, miraculously, have not been separated. These two still-lifes, one with tulips, another with irises were donated in 2012 by Clarice Smith (ill. 2 and 3).
The artist probably studied in Daniel Soreau’s studio in Hanau where Sebastien Stoskopff also trained, then married his master’s niece in 1627 and was active not only in Hanau but also in Frankfurt. Working in a decorative mode, the artist disposes the flowers on a neutral background, face on. These paintings also recall Beert’s manner, as well as that of Velvet Breughel.

4. François Desportes (1661-1743)
Still-life with partridges, pheasants, racks
of lamb and William’s pears
, 1734
Oil on Canvas - 121 x 95 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art

Finally, a still-life by François Desportes, purchased in 2012 from the Stair Sainty Ltd. gallery in London, represents dotted partridges, pheasants, racks of lamb, fruit and William’s pears (ill. 4). The various pieces of game are wrapped in pork fat and are obviously ready for roasting. Dating from 1734, it was probably exhibited at the Salon of 1738. The scene repeats that in an oval painting from 1716 which Desportes produced for the Regent, at the Palais Royal, and which today resides at the Musée de la Chasse in Paris. Dezailler d’Argenville explains that this painting was intended for a particular kitchen, where the Regent amused himself by doing experimental cooking ; he thus commissioned three paintings from the artist and chose the subjects himself : one was to represent feathered game, another to depict different vegetables and the third meats ready to be put on a spit. Here, the artist offers a lighter composition than the one in the original, also with more perspective by adding a stool with pears in the foreground and eliminating the parrot on the right. In addition, the artist repeated the motif of the partridges on the left in another painting which came up for auction at Piasa on 24 June 2011 in Paris.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mardi 10 septembre 2013

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