Brilliant surfaces of metalwork and glass reflect lush fruits and a lobster in this still life. Heavily laden tables like this one, boasting both foodstuffs and imported luxuries such as the blue-and-white porcelain bowl from China, typify Dutch still life in the second half of the seventeenth century. Such paintings represent a shift away from the reminders of immortality and vanity in earlier still lifes and toward a wholehearted embrace of earthly pleasures.
This painting was seized by the Nazis from Baron Karl Neuman (Charles Neuman de Végvár) in Paris and restituted to him by 1947.
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Title:Still Life with Lobster and Fruit
Artist:Abraham van Beyeren (Dutch, The Hague 1620/21–1690 Overschie)
Date:probably early 1650s
Medium:Oil on wood
Dimensions: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
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 , 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.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at The Met," October 16, 2018–October 4, 2020, no catalogue.
[Claus Virch]. Paintings in the Collection of Charles and Edith Neuman de Végvár. [New York], , 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 inThe 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.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 327, 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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