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Adriaen Coorte, Still Life with Strawberries, Gooseberries and Asparagus

Key facts
Full title Still Life with a Bowl of Strawberries, a Spray of Gooseberries, Asparagus and a Plum
Artist Adriaen Coorte
Artist dates 1659/64 - in or after 1707
Date made 1703
Medium and support Oil on paper on canvas
Dimensions 35.7 × 42.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Gift from the collection of Willem Baron van Dedem, 2017
Inventory number NG6664
Location Room 23
Collection Main Collection
Still Life with Strawberries, Gooseberries and Asparagus
Adriaen Coorte

This is a typical example of the small but exquisitely executed still-life paintings which were Adriaen Coorte’s specialism. He used a dark background and dramatic lighting to highlight the contrast between different shapes and surfaces, such as the translucence of ripe gooseberries and the musty sheen on the plum.

The high degree of precision gives the impression of a realistic scene – you might assume it has been painted from life. But this can’t have been the case, because the food depicted here would not have been available at the same time. Asparagus spears are cut in May; strawberries usually ripen from June; gooseberries are picked in early July and plums in August.

Compositions which belied seasonal availability in this way were common in Dutch still-life and flower paintings, however. There was a long tradition of artists working from studio drawings rather than painting direct from nature.

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