A Still life with a Basket of Peaches and a fig standing on a Blue Velvet Cloth laid on a Marble Ledge
(Willem Van Aelst)


Van Aelst was among the most cosmopolitan of Dutch seventeenth century still-life painters. Introduced by his uncle and master, Evert, to the Delft guild in 1643, he left for Paris two years later. After six years there he traveled to Italy, arriving in Florence in 1649 and then traveling to Rome before returning to the former as a court painter to Ferdinando II dei Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Known in Italy as Guglielmo d’Olanda he continued to boast of his French and Italian sojourns by signing “Guglielmo” or “Guillaume” long after his return in 1656/57.

This is an example of Van Aelst at his best. Although dated 1650 – after he had left for Italy – it was probably commissioned by a French patron. The painting had never been cleaned or lined and was still on its original stretcher when we acquired it.

Thanks to its extraordinary state of preservation we are able to observe the qualities so admired by his patrons and contemporaries, without the disturbing intervention of the damages normally unavoidable in paintings of this age.

The crisp line, refined colors, expert definition of texture and volume, and careful placement of the objects all serve to entice the eye. The artist has brilliantly established for the viewer the subtle relationship between the different objects – the cold marble, soft velvet bordered by it’s sparkling gold fringe, the basket firmly resting laden with plums and peaches, a lone fig, with three sharp white blossoms interspersed among the leaves. The influence of French artists such as Linard and Moillon is evident, as is a hint of the artist’s response to Italian still life painting.

14 1/2 X 19 1/2 inches, 37.5 X 49.5 cm
Oil on canvas
Where is It?
Acquired by a Collector
Historical Period
Baroque - 1600-1720
Still Life - Other
Netherlandish - Dutch
1996-Paintings 1600 - 1912.
26 colour plates, 144 pp. £12 or $20 inc. p.& p.

(Click on image above)
Price band
Sold or not available