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Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Still Life

Key facts
Full title Still Life
Artist Jan Davidsz. de Heem
Artist dates 1606 - 1683/4
Date made about 1664-5
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 33.7 × 24.2 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2582
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Still Life
Jan Davidsz. de Heem

A tempting pyramid of exotic foods stands out against the dark background of Jan Davidsz. de Heem’s sensuous painting, evoking delectable flavours and scents. At the base, three fleshy oysters curled up in their shells are placed in a triangle, echoing the pyramid form. A single, half-full glass of red wine makes the apex, the reflection of a window glittering on one side.

The blue bindweed is a spring flower, certainly not in bloom when either cherries or wheat are ripening. Although the picture looks real, it’s an imaginary composition painted from sketches and created to celebrate the abundance of nature, the passing of the seasons and the prosperity of the Dutch nation, where such luxuries were being brought in from abroad by merchant ships.

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