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Jan Jansz. Treck, Still Life with a Pewter Flagon and Two Ming Bowls

Key facts
Full title Still Life with a Pewter Flagon and Two Ming Bowls
Artist Jan Jansz. Treck
Artist dates 1605/6 - 1652
Date made 1651
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 76.5 × 63.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1931
Inventory number NG4562
Location Room 23
Collection Main Collection
Still Life with a Pewter Flagon and Two Ming Bowls
Jan Jansz. Treck

Here Jan Jansz. Treck has risen to the challenge of evoking the lustre of and distorted reflections in silver, pewter, glass, porcelain and eggshells as well as the complex shadows in a crumpled linen cloth. It was a highly valued skill in Dutch still-life painting and this rather beautiful example of the genre has a particularly calm aesthetic.

The overall colour scheme is muted, dominated by greys, greens and browns – only the bright red berries stand out. To our eyes, the selection of objects also seems quite mundane: it’s the aftermath of a meal, where the plates, dishes, and a flagon have been temporarily pushed to one side, together with a discarded napkin. But the two blue and white dishes are not normal domestic tableware. They are very expensive late Ming-period Chinese porcelain. These were exotic and highly desirable goods, and this painting is a celebration of luxury.

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