Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Still Life with Lobster and Fruit

Abraham van Beyeren (Dutch, The Hague 1620/21–1690 Overschie)
probably early 1650s
Oil on wood
38 x 31 in. (96.5 x 78.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Edith Neuman de Végvár, in honor of her husband, Charles Neuman de Végvár, 1971
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 635
Over the course of an itinerant career, Van Beyeren specialized in still lifes of luxurious objects (such as silver-gilt vessels and Chinese porcelain) and expensive foodstuffs, depicted with an unusually loose touch and Rembrandtesque illumination. His palette was understated, but this picture has lost some color with age.
Probably dating from the early 1650s, this panel was painted quite thinly and freely, with an understated palette that has lost some color with age. Blue tones in particular have diminished; the table cover was most likely a stronger purple, and the Chinese cup was originally blue and white. Thinning of the paint with age has caused some loss of form.

Van Beyeren was mostly active in his native city of The Hague but he lived in nearby Delft from 1657 to 1663 and in Amsterdam from 1669 to 1674. He was obviously familiar with still life painting in several art centers. This composition may be characterized as a simpler version of a type of banquet or pronk still life that flourished in Antwerp during the 1640s with artists such as Jan Davidsz de Heem (1606–1683/84).

The tall, silver-gilt covered cup is a ceremonial or decorative vessel known as a Buckelpokal (or knobby goblet); cups in this style were made mainly in Augsburg and Nuremberg. The pocket watch would have suggested to contemporary viewers the brevity of life.

[2010; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed (left, on table): ·AVB· [monogram] f
[Galerie Sanct Lucas, Vienna; sold to Neuman]; Baron Karl Neuman (Charles Neuman de Végvár), Vienna, later Greenwich, Conn. (by 1938–d. 1959; seized in Paris by the Nazis, held at Alt Aussee [1074/3] and at Munich collecting point [1275], returned to France October 30, 1946; restituted); his widow, Mrs. Charles (Edith) Neuman de Végvár, Greenwich (1959–71)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.

[Claus Virch]. Paintings in the Collection of Charles and Edith Neuman de Végvár. [New York], [1970], p. 3.

John Walsh Jr. "New Dutch Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum." Apollo 99 (May 1974), pp. 348–49, fig. 12, describes it as "a relatively sober work of the 1650s, thinly and fluidly painted"; identifies the silver-gilt cup as a type made in Nuremberg in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and identifies the porcelain bowl as Ming; suggests the influence of Willem Kalf.

Anthony M. Clark in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965–1975. New York, 1975, p. 92, ill.

Peter C. Sutton. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, pp. 190, notes the upright composition as a "more indigenous Dutch type".

Erika Gemar-Koeltzsch. Luca Bild-Lexikon: Holländische Stillebenmaler im 17. Jahrhundert. Ed. Klaus Ertz and Christa Nitze-Ertz. Lingen, Germany, 1995, vol. 2, p. 104, no. 28/38, ill.

Adriaan van der Willigen and Fred G. Meijer. A Dictionary of Dutch and Flemish Still-life Painters Working in Oils, 1525–1725. Leiden, 2003, p. 33.

Fred G. Meijer. The Collection of Dutch and Flemish Still-life Paintings Bequeathed by Daisy Linda Ward. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 2003, p. 165, notes similar lobster, dish with pointed rim, melon, and other motifs in Van Beyeren's "Still Life with Lobster and Turkey" (Ashmolean, Oxford) and suggests, indirectly, a date in the early 1650s.

Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. xi, 32–34, 119, 321, no. 7, colorpl. 7, as probably datng from the early 1650s.

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