September 20, 2019 9:05 am Published by

Very little is known about Adriaen Coorte, who may have been born around 1665. As far as we can tell from his many dated paintings, he was active between 1683 and 1705 or perhaps 1707. He probably worked in the vicinity of Middelburg, or in that town, where in 1695/6 he was fined one pound (about six guilders) because he had offered paintings for sale without being a member of the local guild, and where many of his paintings are recorded in sales of eighteenth-century collections. He painted a fair number of mostly small still-life pictures of fruit, vegetables, nuts and shells. He appears to have begun his career painting live birds, partly copying Melchior d’Hondecoeter. An example in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Exotic Birds, signed and dated 1683, is his earliest known dated work.

Adriaen Coorte is best known for his still lifes of fruit and of asparagus: a spot-lit single bowl, branch, mound or bunch on a plain stone ledge as the ultimate visualisation of the term still life. These images seem to have fascinated the artist, since to some of them, like the bunch of asparagus, he returned several times over the years. A bundle of asparagus appears in one of his earliest still lifes, in 1685, together with a pot of strawberries and a branch of gooseberries. In 1690, he seems to have isolated such a bundle of asparagus for the first time. Henceforth, single bundles of asparagus appear in 1696, 1697, 1699 and 1703, and there are at least two undated examples. A similar pattern can be seen for Coorte’s still lifes of gooseberries and for still lifes of bowls and pots of strawberries. Those subjects, too, he portrayed several times throughout his career.

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This post was written by joecollinson