Description: Juan van der Hamen y Leon was born in Madrid, to a Fleming family of noble ancestry. Very little is known of his artistic training except that it may have taken place in Madrid. He possibly learned directly from court painters who also had experience working abroad. In 1516 he established himself as an independent artist with his own workshop. In 1619, at the age of 23, he was summoned to the court in Madrid, despite King Philipp III having already acquired a still life by van der Hamen in the previous year. His early adoption of this particular style reflects the ease at which he reacted to artistic developments in other areas of Europe. He, and the slightly older Juan Sanchez y Cotän, are the first Spanish artists that can be considered major still life painters, the importance of which increased circa 1600, especially in Flanders. Obviously, a certain rivalry existed between van der Hamen and the court painter Diego Velasquez who was three years his junior and concentrated largely on figural painting. Their contemporaries considered them to be of equal importance.
Approximately 70 still lifes are known to exist by van der Hamen y Leon, who died at the age of 35. The most important works are in museums, particularly the Prado in Madrid where pieces from the royal collection are to be found. Characteristic and very "Spanish" in these paintings is the braided willow basket, appearing in many of his works. William B. Jordan who will include this painting in his catalogue raisonné, believes that it may be a detail from a larger composition. Similar fruit baskets can be found in larger works, the 130 cm wide painting in the Museum of Art, Williamstown, dated 1629 for example, as well as in single motif pictures such as ours.
Dimensions: 51 x 53.8 cm
Artist or Maker: JUAN VAN DER HAMEN Y LEÓN
Medium: oil on canvas (relined)
Exhibited: APPLES, QUINCES, PLUMS AND CHERRIES IN A BASKET
Provenance: Christie´s New York, 19.5.1993, lot 55. - Private collection, Spain.
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William B. Jordan, March 1993. - Letter by William B. Jordan 22..7.2001 (both as copies).
VAT: Margin Scheme