Vanitas Still Life Attributed to Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraten (1630-1700)

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Attributed to Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraeten (c.1630 Haarlem - London 1700)

Vanitas Still-Life with Theorbo

Oil on Canvas

Frame: A black stained Holtzaphel (16cm border)

Canvas: 144 x 97.1 cm

Provenance: Harold D. Martin, London;

                     Christie's London, 21 July, 1944, lot 143 

In 17th-century Holland it was fashionable to include in a still-life symbols to remind man of the futility of his vanity in view of the brief span of his life. Such paintings were known as "Vanitas' still-lifes. This Vanitas includes a small skull and an hour glass, for telling the passing of the hours, fallen on its side. Instead of the more usual flowers or fruit, which might contain blemishes of decay, this painting includes a herbal of illustrated plants. And the life of the sense, all too transient and attractive, is represented by the musical instruments, the stoppered wine jug and the rich patterns on the Turkish rug used as a table covering. This seemingly haphazard arrangements of objects is a subtle study in browns, red and golds, and in reflections. The textures of the paper, of the pile on the carpet, the smooth finish to the Theorbo (a stringed instrument like a lute), the duller glaze to the cup - all these can almost be felt by the fingers.

Pieter Gerritsz. Van Roestaten 

Van Roestraeten was the son- in-law, as well as pupil, of Frans Hals, the great 17th-century Dutch portrait painter. He went to England in 1695 where his still- life paintings were popular at the Court of King Charles II and among many of the aristocratic owners of great country houses. He used considerable skill at drawing to continue painting portraits. He was seriously hurt in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

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