HEEM Cornelis de
Son of Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606- 1683/84), one of the greatest Dutch painters of still life. Cornelis was probably trained in his father's studio and assisted him in executing commissions before he reached maturity as an artist in his own right. In 1661, he was mentioned as a member of the Antwerp Painters' Guild. In 1667, he and his wife lived for half a year with his father in Utrecht. From 1676- 1687, he is documented as living with his second wife in The Hague. Shortly after that he must have returned to Antwerp, where he died in 1695.
Very little is known about the Flemish master. A few documents inform us about his tardiness in paying his bills: for two years, he owed a sum of 553 guilders for merchandise delivered; he did not pay for wine delivered to him, or he failed to pay his rent. It is hard to say whether the cause was lack of money or a certain carelessness. At any rate, he paid part of his debts with his paintings after repeated dunning.
Still Life with Oysters, Lemons and Grapes
Like his father Jan Davidsz. - see comments on his painting - Cornelis presents a richly laid table in studied disorder. The structure and composition are borrowed from his father, but the table with the casually draped cloth is laterally inverted. The differences lie in the depiction of the fruit, the valuable silver tableware and in the lighting. This is where Cornelis proves that he has matured into a Flemish master in his own right: the faithful reproduction, the clear, brilliant colours and the intense light that sets off the objects it strikes, make the painting appear harsher and less animated than Jan Davidsz.' works.
Still lifes of fruit, such as the one by Cornelis de Heem, are not only a delight to behold, they also indicate the affluence of the owner. Somehow the paintings also served as substitutes for the expensive fruit that was not available all the year round or which, like the orange, was depicted in different stages of ripeness.
A comparison of the painting at the Residenzgalerie Salzburg with other works by the artist suggests the 60s of the 17th century as the possible date of execution.
Gabriele Groschner, Thomas Habersatter, Erika Mayr-Oehring (Ed.): Masterworks. Residenzgalerie Salzburg. Salzburg 2002, p. 52