Sébastien Stoskopff (Alsatian, 15971657)
Oil on canvas; 18 1/2 x 23 3/8 in. (47 x 59.4 cm)
Wrightsman Fund, 2002 (2002.68)
Painted in Paris in the 1620s, this picture exemplifies the first great age of French still-life painting. In its pared-down composition, with its emphasis on subtle harmonies and the fascinating juxtaposition of two exotic shells with a simple chip-wood box filled with candied fruits, the picture anticipates the work of Chardin. Exotic shells were popular among collectors and often appear in paintings as emblems of vanity. Their luster offered a special challenge to paintersone Stoskopff notably mastered. A French-speaking Lutheran, Stoskopff hailed from the independent city of Strasbourg, in what is now northeastern France. His best work dates from the nineteen years he spent in Paris, from 1622 to 1641.