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Fruit (Still Life) Willem van Aelst


Willem van Aelst Delft 1626 – after 1683 Amsterdam

Culture Netherlandish
Date 1667
Object type painting
Medium, technique oil on canvas

56 x 44 cm
with frame: 75.5 x 64 x 14 cm

Inventory number 330
Collection Old Master Paintings
On view Museum of Fine Arts, First Floor, European Art 1600–1700 and British Painting 1600–1800, Cabinet 9

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.

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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