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Still Life of Fish and Oysters with a Cat
Adrianssen, Alexander van
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Adrianssen, Alexander van

Antwerp, 1587 - Antwerp (Belgium), 1661

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Still Life of Fish and Oysters with a Cat

First half of the XVII century. Oil on panel.
Not on display

Although Alexander Adriaenssen cannot be regarded as a “super specialist” in fish still lifes since he also represented fruit, flowers and game, he did paint more images of fish than his Antwerp counterparts. A considerable proportion of the more than two hundred works currently attributed to him are either pure fish pieces or still lifes where he combined fish with other subjects. Born at Antwerp, Adriaenssen entered the guild there in 1610 as a “watercolor painter”, a designation which may suggest that he was mostly involved in painting temporary decorations for pageants and other festive occasions. His earliest still lifes date only to 1631. Despite the low esteem that fish still life was held in, and the usually low prices that they achieved, the small Prado panel entered the distinguished collection of the Spanish nobleman, the Marquis of Léganes, before 1652, along with five other still lifes by Adriaenssen. Meijer has surmised that the higher quality of the painting, relative to the rest of his oeuvre, may indicate that it was intended for export to Spain. Adriaenssen organizes his fish on a makeshift bench, probably a fish seller´s stall. He depicts a range of sea and freshwater fish as well as a barrel of oysters. With limited means and colour, he manages to capture convincingly the glistening silves scales and moist bodies of the more prominent haddock, carp, and bull rout. Fish could be interpreted in a variety of emblematic ways in the seventeenth century, from symbols of the element water and the phlegmatic temperament, to examples of God´s bounty, to sources of economic pride. Certain types of fish and shellfish, such as herring, oysters and mussels, had erotic connotations. The cat in Adriaenssen´s painting, which is waiting to pounce and consume some of the display, may indicate the need for vigilance. Whether any of these meanings attach to Adriaenssen´s more prosaic depiction is uncertain (Texto extractado de Loughman. John, In the presence of things: four centuries of European still-life painting, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2010, p. 172).

In the presence of things: four centuries of European still-life painting, Lisbon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2010, p.172-173

Technical data

Inventory number
Adrianssen, Alexander van
Still Life of Fish and Oysters with a Cat
First half of the XVII century
Height: 60 cm; Width: 91 cm
Collection of I Marquess of Leganes, given to Felipe IV, 1652; Royal Collection (Real Alcázar, 1686; Palacio del Buen Retiro, 1747; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, pieza verde de chimenea, 1794, nº 96?)

Bibliography +

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Ponz, Antonio, Viage de España, VI, Madrid, 1972, pp. 37.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de pinturas. Escuela flamenca, Museo del Prado; Patrimonio Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1975, pp. 13.

Simón Palmer, María del Carmen, La Cocina de Palacio 1561-1931, Castalia, Madrid, 1977, pp. 46.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, La Escuela Flamenca del Siglo XVII, Ediciones Alfiz, Madrid, 1983, pp. 92.

Greindl, Edith, Les peintres flamands de nature morte au XVII siecle, Editions D'Art Michel Lefebvre, Paris, 1983, pp. 334 / nº45.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 1.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº1227.

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Madrid, 1994, pp. 438.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, El siglo de Rubens en el Museo del Prado: catálogo razonado, Prensa Ibérica, Barcelona, 1995, pp. 98.

Still Lifes by Dutch and Flemish Masters 1550-1700, Central Museum, Utrech, 2004.

Pérez Preciado, José Juan, 'Los Bodegones de Alexander Adriaenssen de la colección de Felipe IV y su primer poseedor: el arquero Real Jan Wymberg' en In sapientia libertas : escritos en homenaje al profesor Alf..., Museo Nacional del Prado: Fundac, Madrid, 2007, pp. 392-401.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, El lienzo de Vertumno y Pomona de Rubens : y los cuartos bajos del Alcázar, [Rubens Picture Ltd], 2009, pp. 73.

In the presence of things: four centuries of European still-life painting, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, 2010, pp. 172-173.

Martínez Leiva, Gloria; Rodríguez Rebollo, Ángel, El inventario del Alcázar de Madrid de 1666. Felipe IV y su colección artística, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, 2015, pp. 270 nº 163.

Pérez Preciado, José Juan, 'Reyes Gobernadores, Nobles, Funcionarios y Artistas. La incesante llegada de obas de arte a España desde los Paises Bajos en el s.XVII', Aragón y Flandes. Un encuentro artístico (siglos XV-XVII), Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, 2015, pp. 132-142 [140].

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1146.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1227.
Adriaensen (Alejandro) / 1227. Bodegon. / Varios pescados, ostras y un gato subiendose a una mesa. (tabla). / Alto 2 pies, 6 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 4 pies, 2 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1227.

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Alcázar de Madrid, 1701-1703. Núm. 277.
Pieza del despacho de Verano en cuio techo esta pintado Apolo [...] 277 / Yttem Seis Pintturas yguales de a Vara y quartta de largo y tres quarttas de Ancho de Unos Bodegonçillos de mano de Vn flamenco Con marcos dorados tasados a quarentta Doblones Cada Vna . . . 240

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. 96 ?.
Pieza Berde de Cimª. [...] [286] 96, 97, 98 y 99 / Quatro bodegones con Aves, Peces y otros comestibles de vara y media de largo y tres varas y media de alto. Adiaegen ... 8000

Inv. María Luisa Gabriela de Saboya, Alcázar de Madrid, 1703. Núm. s. n..
De la pieza del Despacho del Verano en cuyo techo está pintado Apolo se sacaron las pinturas siguientes. [...] [58-63] Itt. seis pinturas iguales de vara Y qta. de largo y tres quartas de ancho de unos Bodegoncillos de mano de un flameo . con marcos dorados colocados en la Galería nueva de la Reyna nra. sra.

Inscriptions +

Alex. Adriaenssen. fe
Signed. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

The Object Observed. Five Centuries of European Still-Life
11.02.2010 - 02.05.2010

Fish: Still-lifes in the Netherlands 1550-1700
26.05.2004 - 08.08.2004

Fish: Still-lifes in the Netherlands 1550-1700
07.02.2004 - 09.05.2004

Update date: 09-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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