|Still Life with Fruit and Dead Game|
Michiel Simons, late Seventeenth C.
The Victoria & Albert Museum
A stone table has been draped with a sumptuous, dark velvet cloth. Upon it, stands a roemer filled with white wine and a monumental porcelain bowl which has been filled with peaches, apricots, pears and grapes on the vine. A gleaming pewter plate artfully contains almonds and a partially peeled lemon with the voluptuous, curving rind still attached, curling over the table’s edge. A lobster has been placed on the cool surface of the table, along with a loaf of bread, red grapes, a pomegranate, more peaches, plums and pears and five small birds.
This typically Dutch still life is indicative of what I like to call the “Dead Animals/Rotting Fruit” style which was dominant in the Netherlands and in Flanders in the Seventeenth Century. This one is the work of Michiel Simons. Entitled “Still Life with Fruit, a Lobster and Dead Game,” this late Seventeenth Century work is really the ideal Dutch still life. In addition to showing a household’s wealth—noted with the ability to acquire exotic game, wine (usually served with lemon as it is here) and exceptional serving pieces, these still life paintings were the perfect opportunity for an artist to demonstrate his ability to capture different textures and lighting.