This very simple, small, very poetic, 17th century Flemish still life, set against a dark background, was painted by a mysterious, unidentified painter from Antwerp, from the 3rd quarter of the 17th century. Over 100 paintings of him are known, but none of them are signed. Art historians have baptised him the Pseudo-Simons, although they had better called him the Pseudo-Gillemans.
About the Pseudo-Simons
Unidentified Flemish painter from Antwerp, circa 1650 – 1680.
Still life painter of fruit still lifes, who occasionally also painted flower still lifes.
His oeuvre comprises already over one hundred paintings, all of them sadly enough unsigned.
As in the past a lot of these works had been attributed to the Dutch painter Michiel Simons our unidentified painter was therefore called the Pseudo-Simons.
All this was a sad mistake for our painter was not Dutch, but Flemish, and clearly influenced by Jan Pauwel Gillemans I and II, father and son, who were active in Antwerp.
As many of the paintings by the Pseudo-Simons have been discovered in old English collections it is thought he must have been active for some time in England.
About Michiel Simons
Utrecht?, date of birth unknown – 1673, Utrecht
Still life painter of flowers and fruit, who occasionally also painted game still lifes.
Dated works range from 1648 to 1657.
It seems likely that Simons was mainly active in the city of Utrecht, where he was recorded in 1669, 1671 and finally in 1673.
Simons did develop a strong individual and recognizable style. His flower and fruit still lifes show the influence of Ambrosius II and of Johannes II Bosschaert. His compositions are also indebted to Jan Davidsz.de Heem. All three these painters have been active in Utrecht.
In his turn Simons seems to have influenced the so-called Monogrammist JHV.
About Jan Pauwel Gillemans I
Flemish still life painter
Antwerp 1618 – after 12 Aug 1675 Antwerp
Son of a goldsmith from Liège; he learned the goldsmith craft from his father.
Member of the Painter’s Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp from the year 1647-48 onwards.
His still lifes have generally a dark background, reflecting the influence of Jan Davidsz. de Heem.
His garlands of fruit, however, recall those of Joris van Son.
He painted mostly on canvas, occasionally also on oak panels and on copper plates.
He regularly signed his paintings, but far from always, at first with “J.P. Gillemans”, from the late 1650-ies onwards often with “Joan Paolo Gillemans”.
He married in 1648, the couple had eight children; one of them Jan Pauwel II also became a painter. The later works of Jan Pauwel Gillemans the Elder are sometimes difficult to distinguish from the early works of his son, the Younger.
About Jan Pauwel Gillemans II
Flemish still life painter
Antwerp 1651 - 1704 Amsterdam
Jan Pauwel the Younger first studied painting under his father and then, from 1665, under Joris van Son (1623 – 1667).
He was active in Antwerp, but also in Middelburg in Zeeland in the Dutch Republic.
Just after he was accepted as a master in the Painter’s Guild of Antwerp (1674) he was already fined in Middelburg in 1675 for being active there as a painter without being inscribed in their local painter’s guild. He seems to have returned to Antwerp and it was only in 1702 that Jan Pauwel Gillemans II became a member of the Painter’s Guild of Middelburg, in fact shortly before moving to Amsterdam. Not long after this move he died there. According to Jacob Campo Weyerman in the third of his four volumes (1729 – 1739) with The Lives of Dutch painters and paintresses, Gillemans drowned in a canal, after he had been drinking too much. Weyerman’s Lifes are known for their anecdotes, although it is not clear how many are based on truth and how many on fiction.
Jan Pauwel II was strongly influenced by his father.
Generally speaking, the works of Jan Pauwel II have a less forceful and more decorative character than those of his father, whose colour palette was more limited.
Jan Pauwel II regularly placed his still lifes against a landscape and/or architectural setting.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is such a strong, sober still life, set against a strong, black background.