About Roelof Koets I
Haarlem 1592 – 1654 Haarlem
Painter of still lifes and according to tradition also active as a musician.
Koets’ earliest works date from 1624 (a painting that I sold many years ago) and from 1625 (Antwerp, Museum Mayer van den Bergh). These colourful still lifes remind of Floris van Dijck, Nicolaes Gillisz. and Floris van Schooten, but also of Jacob van Hulsdonck and Isaac Soreau.
His mature works, such as ours, were influenced by one of the major 17th century Dutch still life painters, Pieter Claesz. (Berchem-Antwerp 1597/98 – 1660/61 Haarlem). His last name should be pronounced ‘Claeszoon’, which stands for ‘son of Claes’.
Both artists regularly worked together on the same still life paintings of pronk (‘display’) and banquet still lifes; Koets then painted the fruits, especially grapes, and the vine. According to Martina Brunner-Bulst in her monograph about Pieter Claesz., published in 1984, there are ten of these collaborative paintings, dating between 1644 and 1652/53 (cat. Nr. 60, 134-6, 166-7, 169, 183, 201 and 215). On only one occasion did both painters sign their mutual work: the large still life from 1644 from the Budapest National Museum.
Both painters must have been friends, living in the same town of Haarlem. They testified several times together as witnesses in lawsuits.
Interesting enough today Pieter Claesz. is higher esteemed than Koets, but in the 17th century it was just the reverse: still lifes by Koets realised 20 guilders, those by Claesz. only five to ten guilders.
Koets is also said to have worked on a few occasions with another Haarlem still life painter, Jan III van de Velde (Haarlem 1620 -1662 Enkhuizen).
A homonymous painter, Roelof Koets II, was a portrait painter, pupil of Gerard Terborch. He was born in Zwolle around 1650 and died there in 1725. There is no family relationship between Roelof I and II.
About our painting
Our painting must date from the 1640s. Typical of our artist are the grapes and twirling ivy, the way he plays with light on the surface of the draping and in the reflection of the silver plate and tazza and of the glass of white wine.
Koets has cleverly cut his composition in two by using a glass-holder, representing the young Bacchus, holding a Roemer glass. Bacchus was the Roman god of wine, Dionysos was his Greek name. Glass-holders were luxury products, often made of silver gilt. In its clamps it holds a Roemer glass: its stem is, as always, decorated with prunts, to ensure a safe grip. Both glass-holders and Roemer glasses are typical of the German and of the Dutch culture in the late 16th and first half of the 17th century. The white wine might well have been imported from Germany, from the valleys of the Rhine or Moselle.
Why should you buy this painting ?
Because it is a beautiful pronk (display) still life holding a magnificent glass-holder, a luxury product of which today only very few are preserved.