Osias BEERT THE ELDER
(Antwerp, ca 1580 – 1624)
Still life with oysters
Oil on panel 58 x 92 cm
Not many facts are recorded about this artist’s early life. He is assumed to have been born in Antwerp around 1580 and to have studied under the little-known Andries van Baesrode (or: van Baseroo). He joined the city’s Guild of St. Luke in 1602. Beert trained several pupils, of whom only Frans Ykens appears to have become a still life painter. Osias Beert is known as a painter of only flowers and fruits. He rarely signed or monogrammed his work, and never dated it. Since knowledge about the early stage of Flemish still life is very fragmentary, numerous works of that period are attributed to this artist. Osias Beert painted mostly on oak panels, using a glazing technique. By using multiple superimposed layers of very fluid oil, he was able to obtain an impression of transparency and multicoloured glow. The delicate white butterfly in the centre of the foreground also appears in a number of Beert’s still lifes. Nowadays paintings by Osias Beert the Elder can be found in many museums, including the Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna, Austria; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA; the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Holland; the National Gallery of Armenia, Yerevan, Armenia and in private collections all over the world.
In their successful endeavours to convey a world of abundance and beauty, the 17th century painters created sumptuous tabletop still lifes to delight the viewer’s senses. Osias Beert was one of the first artists to specialize in still life painting at the time when working in this genre was still minimal and the few works that were created, remained modestly anonymous. Beert’s mastery of illusionism and his carefully arranged compositions were the hallmarks of his style. His breakfast pieces, usually referred to by their Dutch name “ontbijtjes” (”little breakfasts”), depict the scene from a high viewpoint with a forced perspective. This technique is primarily seen in early Flemish and Dutch still life painting. His flower still lifes, often presented as a scene of a vase in a narrow niche, are reminiscent of the works of Ambrosius Bosschaert. It is speculated that he collaborated also with Pieter Paul Rubens. The closest stylistic analogies to this work can be found in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, “Dishes with oysters, fruit and wine”, dated ca 1620/1625.
Important private collection, Zürich, Switzerland
Exhibition’s catalogue “Art Rules”, Tallinn, 2015
Exhibition “Art Rules” organized by Art-Life Project in Tallinn Town Hall, 5 June 2015 – 5 October 2015, Estonia
BRAFA – the Brussels Art Fair – 2017