The Antwerp still life painter Alexander Adriaenssen preferred painting fish and also game still lifes. He only painted a few, beautiful, pure flower still lifes. Sir Peter Paul Rubens had two of his paintings in his collection; his first wife was godmother to one of our painter’s children.
About Alexander Adriaenssen
Antwerp 1587 – 1661 Antwerp
Still life painter, mainly of fish and dead game on tables with copper- and tinware, glass and pottery. His still lifes of flowers in vases are rare. In some compositions Adriaenssen combined food with a vase holding flowers.
Only two canvases, both in private collections, are known in which he worked with figure painters: a garland of flowers around a painting of the Holy Family by Simon de Vos and a porcelain bowl of fruit beside a Virgin and Child attributed to a follower of Rubens.
Alexander was the son of the composer Emanuel Adriaenssen and brother to the painters Vincent Adriaenssen (1595-1675) and Nicolaes Adriaenssen (1598-1648/9).
In 1597 he was apprenticed to Artus van Laeck (who died in 1616) and in 1610 he became a master in the Painters' Guild of Antwerp. One year later he got married.
Adriaenssen had started his career, as did Jacob Jordaens, as a so-called “water painter”, that is a painter of large decorative canvasses painted in a combination of watercolour and egg white or glue. Such a rather cheap paintings were used to replace tapestries and leather hangings in “cuir de Cordoue”. His master, Artus van Laeck, had remained a water painter during his complete career.
Later our painter specialised in painting coats of arms and funerary hatchments, before finally turning to still life painting.
In 1635 Adriaenssen was one of the painters who worked under the direction of Rubens to paint the decorative scheme for the Triumphal Entry into Antwerp of Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria, the newly appointed governor of the Spanish Netherlands. He painted the coats of arms of the Seventeen Provinces for the triumphal arches.
Rubens possessed two still lifes by our painter in his collection: one with birds and one with a basket of fruit. His first wife, Isabella Brandt (1591 – 1626), was godmother of one of Alexander’s children.
About our painting
In her monograph on Adriaenssen, Spiessens has assembled in 1990 a large number of still lifes: 171 signed paintings and 24 unsigned paintings that she securely attributed to him. Adriaenssen preferred painting fish or game still lifes; he painted just a few pure flower still lifes, such as ours.