Portrait of a Man, Selfportrait
Old Master Paintings
|Medium, technique||oil on canvas|
56 x 44 cm
|Collection||Old Master Paintings|
|On view||This artwork is not on display|
It can be assumed that the symbolic meanings attached to the various fruits were known in the time when the present work was conceived. Thus peaches were associated with sensuality and the snail with sin, whereas the fly may have evoked the sense of decay and transience.
The chief motifs of Willem van Aelst’s fruit pieces are peaches and grapes. He displayed an unrivalled bravura in exploiting the possibilities of representing the formal contrast between the waxy, taut grapes and the soft, velvety peaches. The depiction of objects of contrasting textures, such as the transparent and airy glass goblets and the polished, hard marble pedestal-top, or the cloth of silky lustre in soft folds and the golden fringes, results in a highly contrasting, yet vividly unified composition. The gnawed, wrinkled, withering leaves and the curly tendril of vine add a great sense of decorativity to the composition, while the drops of water rolling down slowly, the minute particles of nutshell, and the meticulous attention paid to the treatment of the wings of the fly delight the viewer with the richness of detail.