Still lifes by Adriaen Coorte

12 Mar 2024

Still lifes by Dutch artist Adriaen Coorte (?1660 - after 1707) look, if not modern, then extremely attractive to the eye of a person of the XX-XXI centuries. Minimalist paintings usually depict fruits, vegetables, nuts, shells on a simple dark background.

Adriaen Coorte. Wild Strawberries on a Ledge. Signed and dated lower left: A Coorte/1704. Oil on paper, laid down on panel. 13.5 by 16.5 cm. Estimate Sotheby's 800,000 — 1,200,000 USD. Lot sold 2,050,000 USD. 

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Adriaen Coorte was completely forgotten. The State Museum in Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum) bought his painting only in 1903. Сoorte's "discoverer" father was the Dutch art historian Laurens Johannes Bol (1898-1994). Between 1952 and 1953, he published the first catalog of the artist's works. This publication and a subsequent exhibition at the Dordrechts Museum in 1958 brought the artist back from oblivion. In 1977, Bol published a monograph on the artist in Amsterdam. In 2003, an exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Adriaen Coorte. Three peaches on a stone ledge, with a red admiral butterfly. Signed with monogram lower centre: AC. Oil on paper, laid down on panel. 31.3 by 23.3 cm. Estimate Sotheby's 2,000,000 — 3,000,000 GBP

Little is known about Adriaen Coorte's life, even his years of birth and death remain a mystery. He is believed to have been from Middelburg in Zealand. The artist's paintings date from 1683 to 1705. His early works depicting birds in a garden setting are very close in style to those of Melchior d'Hondecoeter (c.1636-1695).
Melchior painted mainly birds against the background of park landscapes. His contemporaries even nicknamed him "Bird Raphael". The stylistics of Adriaen Coorte's early works suggest that he was Melchior's pupil in Amsterdam.

Adriaen Coorte. Pelican and ducks in a mountain landscape, 1683. Ashmolean Museum

Laurens Johannes Bohl found that between 1700 and 1900 most of Coorte's works could be found in collections in and around Middelburg. The conclusion is that the artist spent most of his artistic career here.

Adriaen Coorte. Still life of an earthenware bowl of wild strawberries, a bundle of asparagus and sprigs of gooseberry and redcurrants, all on a stone ledge with a pale blue butterfly above. Signed and dated lower centre: A. Coorte. 1689. Oil on canvas, reduced at the sides and the top. 33 by 43.6 cm. Sotheby's.

In addition, the year books of the painters' guild of St. Luke's in Middelburg for 1695-1696 mention that a certain "Coorde" was fined for selling paintings in that town without being a member of the guild. By this time Coorte had been creating paintings for at least 13 years and the fact that he was not a member of the artists' guild is an interesting fact. On this basis, researchers have suggested that Coorte was not a professional painter, but a gentleman painter or amateur.

Judging from the fact that he sometimes painted on used paper, the second is more likely. Many of Coorte's works from the mid-1690s and later are painted on paper glued to wood or canvas. It is not clear whether he applied the paper himself to the heavy backing or whether someone else did it later for better preservation. This technique is not at all typical of the 17th and 18th centuries. It seems that Coorte first drew the composition on paper and then worked in oil on top of the drawing. During the 2006 Sotheby's pre-sale restoration of the Strawberry Painting, the paper was peeled away from the board and it was discovered that the work was painted on a painted page of an early 1600s trade ledger.

Adriaen Coorte (Holland, Middelburg (?), active 1683-1707). Wild Strawberries in a Wan Li Bowl. 1704. Oil on paper, mounted on wood. Panel: 29.53 x 22.54 cm; Framed: 47.63 x 40.64 x 5.08 cm. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

There are currently about 64 known paintings by Adriaen Coorte. Many of his creations show natural objects mounted on a stone ledge against a dark background. One of his favorite "models" was the forest strawberry, which he included in no less than eighteen paintings.
Some more examples of artwork:

1688 / Adriaen Coorte. Still life of a vine twig with grapes, peaches, apricots, medlars, a melon and a halved fig, resting on a stone ledge. Signed and dated lower right: A : Coorte , i688. Oil on canvas. 57.5 by 46.3 cm. Sotheby's.

Adriaen Coorte. Two Large and Four Smaller Shells on a Slab of Stone. 1696. Color on paper mounted on wood. 15 cm x 22 cm. Louvre Museum (Inventory).

Adriaen Coorte. Still life with asparagus, a spray of gooseberries and a bowl of strawberries. 1698. Oil on canvas. 37 x 44 cm.

Write & Read to Earn with BULB

Learn More

Enjoy this blog? Subscribe to rocksrock


No comments yet.
Most relevant comments are displayed, so some may have been filtered out.