Is this beautiful, middle 17th century, Dutch monochrome still life with fishing gear a farce? Was the catch of the day a slipper?
It is a mystery, as is the painter: there are no other paintings known by this Monogrammist AG.
About our painting
This unusual middle 17th century still life is the only painting known by this unidentified painter. Our painter seems to have known the works of other Dutch fish still life painters: Pieter de Putter, Pieter van Noort and Johannes Kuveenis the Elder.
- Pieter de Putter (Middelburg?, circa 1600 – 1659 Beverwijk) was probably the first painter in the Northern Netherlands who specialised in fish still-life painting. According to Dr. Fred G. Meijer he must have started depicting fish somewhere in the 1630s. He spent his complete career in The Hague. He moved to Beverwijk, 20 km NW of Amsterdam, in the year before his death.
- Pieter van Noort (Leiden? Circa 1622/25 – 1672 Zwolle) moved in 1652 from Leiden to Zwolle, where he remained until his death twenty years later.
- Johannes Kuveenis I (Bremen circa 1620 – well into the 1670s, ?) was active in The Hague and in Amsterdam.
Fish still lifes were popular in 17th century Holland. It has been calculated (Hochstrasser 2007, P. 38) that in the second half of the 17th century the Dutch fishing industry and its ancillary trades employed about 450.000 persons, while some 200.000 worked in agriculture and about 650.000 in other industries. Dutch salted herring was considered the best in Europe.
Many painters specialised in either painting just fish or a fisherman in his simple house, or outside with his catch, or his wife selling fish on a market, or a thirsty visitor of a tavern eating a fish. It is difficult to paint fish in an exciting way, so painters tried to enliven their compositions by adding baskets, buckets, fishing gear, jugs, sometimes even a cat.
Our painter, and in this he is for sure unique, has skipped the fish, and he has portrayed the objects: not only fishing gear, but also a beer jug, a basket, a pipe and sheet of paper with pepper. The strangest object seems to be a slipper, turning this into a great painting by a mysterious artist with a good sense of humour.
Some authors, who have not seen this painting in real speak of an “AC” or “AP” monogram, but it is clearly signed with “AG”.
In my opinion the monogram is original. But those authors doubt if the monogram is as old as the actual painting. Those who have misread the monogram as “AC” think it might therefore be a fake Aelbert Cuyp monogram, which it clearly is not.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a nice Dutch monochrome still life painting on oak panel, circa 1650, with a pinch of humour: a slipper forms the centre of the composition.