Alexander Coosemans (1627-1689): Still life with fruit and a pewter dish, oil on panel


Work: 51,5 x 37 cm

Frame: 69 x 54 cm


The authorship of of Alexander Coosemans was confirmed in writing by Dr. Jaco Rutgers on September 9, 2020 (the document is part of the lot).

Still life with green and blue grapes, figs, peaches, a tangerine, a melon and a pewter plate with apricots and a half-peeled lemon, on a partially draped wooden lede.

"This magnificent fruit stilllife clearly shows Alexander Coosemans' great abilities as a painter. As an independent master from 1645 onwards, he specialised in the depiction of fruits. In his colourful and lavish displays, the influence of his master Jan davidsz. de Heem is never far away. The virtual absence of dated paintings by his hand makes a chronology of his oeuvre extremely difficult and speculative, although it is generally assumed that he was at the height of his potential in the 60s of the seventeenth century. Typical for his work are the crowded compositions in bright, sparkling colours, with prominently placed grapes that show a glass-like reflection, bright yellow lemons, and glittering pewter, all bathing in full, shiny day light. In many respects, the prsent still life is a characteristic work for Alexander Coosemans.

As in many other compositions by Coosemans, the grapes here, especially the white ones, figure prominently. They generally are very round and light up brightly due to the inclusion of a yellow accent on the lower side and a white highlight in the centre. They do compare very well with those in many other pictures by the master, for instance inthe signed 'Still-life with fruits, a silver tazza and a pewter plate on a partially draped wooden ledge' in a private collection and another signed one, 'Still-life with fruits on a pewter plate with a roemer, a golden goblet, an earthenware jug and a meatl box on a partially draped wooden table' in the Museum Mayer van den Bergh (inv. MMB.0094). In all those works, the grapes apper very finely painted from a distance, although, in fact, they were done with rather bold but accurate brushstrokes.

A striking feature in the present still-life is the melon in left background from which a smaal part is cut away. The contrasting orange of the inside and the bright green of the outside together offer a welcome colour accent in this composition, as it does in others by Coosemans, such as the signed 'Still-life with fruits, asparagus, a flask, a basket and two pewter plates on a partially draped wooden table' in the Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes in Granada (inv. DE 037). Moreover, the peel of the lemon in our picture is depicted in very thickly applied oil paint leaving it as a relief on the painted surface. It is obviously by the same hand as, for instance, the partly peeled lemon in 'Still-life with fruits, oysters and a lobster on a forest ground' in the Szepmuveszeti Museum in Budapest (inv. 51.2978). 

A firm chronoloy of Cooseman's oeuvre is almost impossible becase so few paintings carry a date. Our 'Still-life with green and blue grapes, figs, peaches, a tangerine, a melon and a pewter plate with apricots and a half peeled lemon, on a partially draped wooden ledge' can nevertheless tentatively be put in the 1660s. It compares favourably to a picture which seems indistinctly dated '166(4?)', 'Still-life with fruits, oysters, a roemer, a porcelain bowl and a pewter plate on partially draped wood table' in a private collection.The brick back wall looks very similarly done and so do especially the wrinkly leaves in the upper part of the composition. So it is likely that our still-life by Alexander Coosemans was made when the artist was at the height of his powers."