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A lavish still life

Still lifes are a real treat. The genre flourished in 17th-century Netherlandish painting. The challenge for the painter was to make everything look truly lifelike...

It was clearly a popular genre with the Dutch and Flemish bourgeoisie. There were all sorts of still lifes at various times: sober breakfast still lifes, luxurious ornate still lifes, floral still lifes, fruit paintings, vanitas paintings... A vanitas painting reminded the viewer that human existence is transient, and that time flies.



Despite the many types, the idea behind a still life is usually the same. We see a sophisticated composition of objects. Here, it consists of a table lavishly covered with grapes and grape leaves, bowls and glasses, fruit, cheese, a knife protruding just over the edge of the table, a damask rug and white tablecloth and a silver salt cellar, with the goddess Fortuna standing between the pillars. The glasses, plates and dishes reflect the light like mirrors. The more materials and fabrics are depicted, the greater the challenge for the painter!



We have only a few (signed) works by the Haarlem painter Roelof Koets. This is his earliest known painting. The museum collection contains another twenty or so beautiful examples of still lifes, including works by Antwerp masters.



  • Roelof Koets, ca. 1592-1654
  • Still Life with Cheese and Fruits, 1625
  • Oil on panel, 71 x 125 cm