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 Professor Massimo Pirondini who, after much research and in-depth study, attributes it with certainty to Alexander Adriassen, painter born in Antwerp, known in particular for his representations of fish.
In the Netherlands, between the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century, the still life reached, as a genre, extraordinary importance as the protagonist of the work of art. In the same region, there is a different way of rendering the same subjects: flowers, fruits, game, dishes etc. As the Flemish still lifes become more and more scenographic and sumptuous, the Dutch remain mainly oriented towards simple and domestic themes, as if to represent the deep love of its inhabitants for the reality of humble and everyday things in life.
This tendency to 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, have a short distance from the Netherlands, undoubtedly is influenced by the choice of content and by 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 specialized in still lifes at the guild of San Luca in his city, receiving the admiration of Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, with whom he also had a relationship of friendship and collaboration. In his abundant naturalist production, he is mainly due to his particular representations of subjects related to fish, with works that can be admired today at the Rijsmuseum in Amsterdam, at the Koninklijk Museum in Antwerp, at the Prado in Madrid. In the latter, in particular, there is an oil on Adriassen panel with Various fished and oysters with various similarities to Still Life with oysters, fish and lobsters: the similar clarity of the background, with an arrangement in dispersed order of subjects; and then the same silvery and bronzed nuances of the surfaces, animated by skillful reflections, the precise rendering of the details, the flash of clear and sharp light which freezes all the pictorial work.
The letters VB, legible on the curing barrel, should not be interpreted as a monogram, but it is probably a mark engraved with fire that the painter 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.