Alexander Adriassen (Antwerpen, 1587-1661)
Still life with oysters, fish and lobsters.
Oil on canvas, 66.5 x 109.3 cm
The painting represents a polished stone table on which are placed oysters, different varieties of fish and two lobsters; in the background there are barrels for brine, a copper pot and a large basket. The painting is accompanied by an expert report by Prof. Massimo Pirondini, who, after much research and in-depth studies, attributes this to Alexander Adriassen, a painter born in Antwerp, known for his representations of fish.
In the Netherlands, between the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century, the still life reaches, as a genre, an extraordinary importance as a protagonist of the work of art. In the same region, there is a different way of making the same subjects: flowers, fruits, game, dishes, etc. While Flemish still lifes are becoming increasingly scenic and sumptuous, the Dutch remain mainly oriented towards simple and domestic themes, as to represent the deep love of its inhabitants for the reality of the humble and everyday things of life. This tendency towards simplicity associated with the arrangement of fish, crustaceans and sometimes game or vegetables on simple kitchen tables is a recurring theme in a family of artists who, although living in Flemish Antwerp, short distance from the Netherlands, undoubtedly is influenced by the choice of content and the frugality of the composition: that of Adriassen. Among them, Alexander is the only one to have dealt with still life.
Born in Antwerp in 1587, in 1610, he was already registered as a master of still lifes in the San Luca guild of his city, receiving the admiration of Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, with whom he also had a relationship with friendship and collaboration. In his abundant production of naturalist, he is mainly due to his particular representations of subjects related to fish, with works that can be admired today at the Rijsmuseum of Amsterdam, the Koninklijk Museum in Antwerp, the Prado of Madrid. In the latter, in particular, there is an oil on panel of Adriassen with Miscellanous fish and oysters having various similarities with the still life with oysters, fish and lobsters: the similar clarity of the bottom, with an arrangement in dispersed order of subjects; and then the same silver and tanned nuances of the surfaces, animated by clever reflections, the precise rendering of the details, the flash of clear and clear light that freezes all the pictorial work.
The letters VB, readable on the salting drum, should not be interpreted as a monogram, but it is probably a mark engraved with fire that the painter has reproduced on the back, as he saw it during the execution of the painting, with the help of a mirror.
The painting has a Salvator Rosa frame in black and brown lacquer.
It has undergone a conservative restoration in a specialized restoration laboratory and is accompanied by a restoration report.