Archive for April 4, 2012

Painters of Food…..Abraham van Beyeren


low price range: $2, 500

high price range: $150,000

mediums used: oil

surfaces used: canvas and panel

The artist was born in 1620 in Hague, Netherlands. He lived in many cities such as the Hague, Delft, and Amsterdam. One advantage of living in this time period was that you could move, join a different artist guild, and learn from a master painter how to paint  certain subjects like floral scenes from the Flemish or seafood from the Dutch artist’s like Gillig or Mignon.

The artist started out as a painter of fish and then around 1650  progressed to paint other foods, drink, and floral scenes.

From an artistic standpoint when I see works done by the artist what stands out most is the brightness and softness of the cloth.  Each item is painted as if a portrait with its texture showing. The freshness and wetness of the fruit, the reflective qualities of the glass, even the table ware is given 100 percent detail by the artist. Many times in still life works the artist painted Wan-Li porcelain containing fresh fruit.

If you look closely at the silver wine jars you can actually see the inside of the studio in the reflections! The artists of this time were so impressive to me because nothing stopped them from making a great piece of art. Artists didn’t have bouquets of flowers, too costly so they painted them one at a time with great results. The same is true of still life, not every piece was painted from life.  The artist frequently used a silver wine jar in his works and its always facing the same position, he probably painted it from drawings and studies yet made it look lively with its reflections.  In many works the pitcher  has the artist’s own reflection  sometimes he is painting with his left hand and sometimes with his right hand. Its these small nuances that make looking at the art so fascinating, its a true portrait in that the artist himself is in the work as are daily objects of dutch life from tulips, to pocketwatches, and insects.

Like other artists of the same era he painted clocks in many of his still life works. This was done to show that things aren’t always perfect forever, time is passing so enjoy yourself. In some paintings this is indicated by a flower that isn’t fresh but dying, drying out, and wilting. Great to look for these small imperfections that help explain the artist’s outlook.

The name for drinking glasses of this era was a romer.  Here you can also see the inside of the artists studio by looking in the reflections. One thing I realized by looking at this artist’s rendering of tableware is that he was able to use almost pure white for highlights and it turned out very well. Small dots of light which must have been exaggerated since the only indoor light that was available would have been candlelight or a small window in a studio door, certainly nothing like the way the light is presented to us the viewer.

Cloth can be very interesting in the texture. Also the folds can be manipulated to keep the viewers eye moving in the painting. His cloth seems so soft, even softer than a bunny rabbit.

Fish. Where as Gillig seemed to love to paint fresh water fish, this artist became a master at painting all sorts of sea creatures as if they were freshly caught. Shrimp, oysters, and my favorite the crab with his claws are painted fantastically. The crab was awesome in that most items of still life were smaller creatures such as a butterfly or snail, the crab is large piece of  still life to make it look lively and the artist did this very well.

The artist died in 1690.

He can be found in many museum collections and was quite productive living nearly to the turn of the century.

How about painting your favorite metal container, do it slowly and try to nail the shapes of the reflections!

Happy painting!