17th C, Baroque Still Live, Jacques de Claeuw (Dordrecht, 1623-Leyden, 1694), Vanitas,Oil on Canvas, 109 x 121 cm, Framed & Dated 1689.
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Vanitas Still Life with Musical Instruments, a Painting Palette, a Sculpture, a Drawing, a Print, Books, Charters etc., dated on a sheet above the Lute: ANNO 1689.During the 17th C there was a large market for still life paintings in the Dutch Republic and the Southern Netherlands. Buyers of such works were particularly enthusiastic about the lifelike nature of the images. Artist did their utmost to reproduce the different textures as faithfully as possible. De Claeuw’s still lives are notable for their overload of objects. He often -as is the case in this painting- let objects such as sheets and prints hang over the edge of a table to give his work extra dynamism. With such an example of trompe l’oeil, he drew the viewer, as it were, into the pictorial space. One of De Claeuw’s trademarks was the depiction of a wordy wax-sealed document. This painting contains no less than two such documents, one with black wax seals, and one with red ones. The sheet of paper hanging over the edge of the table is a sales list of paintings, drawings and prints from an estate. They were publicly auctioned. Apparently, the estate belonged to a wealthy person, because the artworks on offer are made by famous artists such as Frans Snyders, Peter Paul Rubens and Lucas van Leyden. On the piece of paper to the left of the sculpture, we read the announcement of a funeral. The artist used this as a pretext to date his painting (1689). At the same time, the obituary fits perfectly into a vanitas still life that deals with the ephemeral nature of human existence. The almanac near the violin is part of the same philosophy of the passing of the days. The male portrait in grisaille possibly depicts an artist from the print series “Iconography” by Anthony van Dyck. The world globe in the background symbolizes the temporary character of everything that is displayed on the table: music(instruments), objects of fine art, human lives (see skull), flowers etc. Jacques De Claeuw was certainly a gifted still life painter, but he was unable to manage his income properly. Due to his poor management skills, he often had to sell his paintings very quickly below their market value.
Provenance: Coll. van de Valk, Rijswijk, M. Den Uyl, Den Haag