Lot 117. Ambrosius Bosschaert II (Arnemuiden 1609-1645 Utrecht), Fruit in a Wan-li kraak dish and shells on a ledge with a lizard, oil on panel, 15 x 18 ¼ in. (38.2 x 46.2 cm). Estimate GBP 70,000 - GBP 100,000 (USD 88,480 - USD 126,400). Price Realised GBP 87,500 (USD 109,900). © Christie's Images Ltd 2016.
Provenance: Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 5 July 1989, lot 36, as 'Bartolomeus Assteyn' (£88,000).
Anonymous sale [The Property of a Private Collector]; Christie's, London, 8 July 2008, lot 32 (£121,250).
Notes: Formerly attributed to Bartolomeus Assteyn, this panel was re-attributed in 2008 to Ambroisus Bosschaert the Younger by Dr. Fred Meijer of the RKD, The Hague, and dated to the 1630s when the painter was working in Utrecht. Demonstrating the influence of the artist’s uncle Bartolomeus van der Ast, and the careful observation and precise style of his father, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, the present picture is a wonderful example of the technical quality and carefully constructed compositions that characterise Bosschaert the Younger’s oeuvre.
With a Wan-li dish laden with peaches, grapes, apples, pears and white currants, all spilling onto the stone ledge below, the composition is arranged so as to convey a multi-layered message to the viewer. All of the elements in Bosschaert’s still-life were relative luxuries in the Netherlands during the 17th century, from the expensive imported porcelain from China to the abundant hot-house fruits. A fascination with the unusual, beautiful and rare among the wealthy classes saw many of them keeping cabinets of curiosities, or Wunderkammer, filled with collections of natural and scientific artefacts. The shells in the foreground would thus have been of particular interest to the learned viewer, fascinated with the beautiful and unfamiliar, while the fruit, all of which is rendered with exemplary skill, held a moral significance by alluding to the brevity and transience of human life; as the apple in the dish starts to bruise, a single grape in the centre of the composition beings to quietly decay.
Christie's. Old Masters Day Sale, 9 December 2016, London, King Street