Jan Davidsz. de Heem

Still-life with Fruit and Butterflies

1652
The artist makes us pause and examine the commonplace. We sense the passage of time, of the activity that has preceded and will follow: the fruit has grown to ripeness, been gathered and piled up together for consumption. A cherry is rotting; a lemon, used and now set aside, has discoloured. The inevitable decay offers a warning, reminding us of our own mortality - yet the work also celebrates nature's bounty and human skill. It also comments on art itself, contrasting De Heem's remarkable illusionism with the stylized fruits and flowers painted on the prized Chinese bowl.
Title
Still-life with Fruit and Butterflies
Date
1652
Medium
Painting
Materials
oil on oak
Dimensions
32.8 x 48.8 cm
Nationality
Dutch; Flemish
Credit line
Purchased 1982
Accession number
28140