Lot 26. Jacob van Hulsdonck (Antwerp 1582 - 1647), Still life with a bunch of grapes and a peeled lemon on a ledge, signed lower left: IVHVLSDONCK·FE· (IVH in ligature), oil on oak panel, 26.9 x 39.2 cm.; 10⅝ x 15½ in. (including a horizontal strip of approx. 0.5 cm. on the lower margin). Lot sold: 100,800 GBP (Estimate: 60,000 - 80,000 GBP). © 2022 Sotheby's.
Property from the Grasset Collection.
Provenance: With Galerie Arnot, Vienna, inv. no. 568 (according to a label on the reverse);
Anonymous sale ('The Property of a Gentleman'), London, Christie's, 29 November 1974, lot 20, for 12,000 Guineas;
Where acquired for the Grasset Collection.
Literature: M. Díaz Padrón et al., Pedro Pablo Rubens (1577–1640), exh. cat., Madrid 1977, p. 65, no. 46, reproduced p. 212;
F.G. Meijer, Brueghel to Canaletto, European Masterpieces from the Grasset Collection, exh. cat., San Diego 2016, p. 12, no. 6, reproduced in colour;
S. Thomas, A Feast for the Eyes, European Masterpieces from the Grasset Collection, exh. cat., Saint Petersburg, Florida 2019, pp. 58 and 98, no. 24, reproduced in colour.
Exhibited: Madrid, Palacio de Velázquez (Parque del Retiro), Pedro Pablo Rubens (1577–1640), December 1977 – March 1978, no. 46;
San Diego, The San Diego Museum of Art, Brueghel to Canaletto, European Masterpieces from the Grasset Collection, 2 April – 2 August 2016, no. 6;
Saint Petersburg, Florida, Museum of Fine Arts, A Feast for the Eyes, European Masterpieces from the Grasset Collection, 23 March – 2 September 2019, no. 24.
Note: This painting is an unusual work by Jacob van Hulsdonck. The majority of his œuvre consists of paintings that depict diverse fruits, usually in porcelain bowls or wicker baskets. This design, however, is a very rare example of the artist choosing to represent individual fruits loosely placed on a table, in a seemingly much more informal arrangement. The small scale of this painting also adds to its appeal as an intimate cabinet picture, and its fine state of preservation allows for the appreciation of Hulsdonck's exquisite rendering of the different surfaces, textures and luminous colours of the lemons, grapes, the vine stem and leaves, as well as the tabletop and trompe l'œil droplets of water.
The existence of only one dated work by Hulsdonck (an early Breakfast Piece of 1614, today in the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle),1 makes it difficult to establish a chronology of his work. This painting is believed to date from after circa 1625, but since his handling remains fairly consistent throughout his œuvre, it is likewise difficult to base a date on stylistic grounds.
The charm of this work is testified to not only by its inclusion in the major Rubens exhibition of 1977–78, but also by the existence of a near contemporary copy of the composition, which is dated 1646 and signed ‘Jooris[...] de Jonghe’ – an unidentified artist who may have been an assistant in Hulsdonck's studio.2
For further discussion of the artist and his career, see the Still life of plums and peaches on a pewter plate (lot 21), offered in the December Evening Sale.
1 Inv. no. B.M.99; https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/breakfast-piece-45768
Sotheby's. Old Masters Evening Auction, London, 7 December 2022