(Breda, active before 1663 – London or Leiden 1708)
Still life with a roemer, lemon, hazelnuts on a table
Oil on panel. 49 x 37 cm
Still life, or painting of inanimate objects, was widely practiced and diverse in Holland. The Dutch masters inherited their love for ample detail from the old Netherlandish School, along with the skill of conveying certain physical properties of the objects they depicted, in which they achieved true virtuosity.
The “Still life with a roemer, lemon, hazelnuts on a table” (signed and dated in 1663) is a fine example of tonal painting and of the so-called “ontbijt” or breakfast pieces by Collier, painted in the style of Pieter Claesz and Willem Claesz Heda, the great still-life masters of Haarlem. All the “personages” in the picture – a drinking glass, lemon and hazelnuts – constitute a vibrant group where the recent human touch still lingers. The painting basks in modest intimate atmosphere, creating a harmonious illusion of reality, steeped in geselligheit, a concept that embodies properties like tenderness and cordiality, designed for leisurely viewing and contemplation.
However, the simplicity of this still life does not mean that philosophical and allegorical depth, related to the symbols of vice and virtue, and the popular Dutch subject of temporality, is absent from the painting. The goblet of wine is a traditional symbol of Christ and his sacrificial death on the cross, while cracked walnuts and hazelnuts symbolise the dual nature of the Saviour: both human and divine. The lemon as a false friend or “amicus fictus” characterized the deceitful nature of outward beauty, behind which lie bitterness, resentment.
Important private collection, Zürich, Switzerland
Exhibition’s catalogue “Art Rules”, Tallinn, 2015
The Exhibition “Art Rules” organized by Art-Life Project in Tallinn Town Hall, 5 June 2015 – 5 October 2015, Estonia
La Biennale Paris – 13 – 17 September 2019