Cornelis de Heem

Cornelis de Heem specialized in still lifes, just like his father, Jan Davidsz de Heem. Cornelis, who was trained by his father, moved at a very young age from Leiden to Antwerp, where he joined the Guild of St Luke as a master painter in 1660.

This canvas displays an ornate still life featuring, among other things, bunches of grapes, a lobster, a shaker and a berkemeier filled with white wine. The artist deployed these costly objects not only to show off his technical skills but also to endow the composition with symbolic significance. A bunch of grapes, for example, could allude both to excessive drinking and to Christ, who was referred to as the True Vine. The lobster reflects a luxurious lifestyle, but was also known as a symbol of conflict and inconstancy. Oysters were associated with carnal lust in the seventeenth century.

 

Specifications

  • Still Life with a Berkemeier, a Peeled Lemon, Grapes and Oysters
  • Cornelis De Heem (1631 - 1695)
  • Oil on Canvas
  • Long-term loan, Private collection