Adriaen van Utrecht
Still Life with Fruits, Vegetable and a Parrot
Oil on canvas (relined). 117 x 183.5 cm.
Signed and dated lower right: Adriaen van Utrecht/fecit ano 1646.
Adriaen van Utrecht, born in 1599 in Antwerp, belongs, alongside Frans Snyders and Jan Fyt, to the leading representatives of Flemish still life painting, an art which, as with all the fine arts, experienced a boom in the first half of the 17th century. Frans Snyders, a generation older than Adriaen van Utrecht, paved the way for the baroque Flemish still life which was founded on the tradition of the kitchen and market pieces of the 16th century. It is characterised by the opulence of the composition and the precise recording of the materiality of the objects depicted, but also by the painterly brilliance which distinguished painting in general in Antwerp in the 17th century. The present still life by Adriaen van Utrecht impresses with its large format and the richness of the infinite variety of fruits and vegetables which are presented to the viewer on a table, some in a basket. Contrary to the market pieces of the 16th century, the staffage figures have disappeared, and only a parrot and a monkey populate the scenery, lending the image an exotic and simultaneously courtly character. The preciousness of the fruits and vegetables, some of which were imported from distant countries, corresponds to the brilliance of the painting. Unlike Frans Snyders, Adriaen van Utrecht was familiar with not only the Flemish still life tradition. As well as Germany and France, he also travelled to Italy where he became acquainted with the still life painting there which flourished in particular in Rome and Milan. It was probably here that he picked up the idea of chiaroscuro, which clearly distinguishes his still lifes from those of Frans Snyders. His clients were as international as his artistic carrier and counted numerous European princes, as well as the German Emperor, the Spanish king and the governor of the Dutch provinces, for whom Adriaen van Utrecht completed important commissions for the furnishing of the Huis ten Bosch palace in The Hague in the same year as the present picture was created.
Private ownership, Italy.