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Still-Life with a Basket and Sweetmeats
Hamen y León, Juan van der
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Hamen y León, Juan van der

Madrid, 1596 - Madrid, 1631

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Still-Life with a Basket and Sweetmeats

1622. Oil on canvas

Although as a genre, bodegones, or still life paintings, were considered inferior to religious scenes, history painting and portraiture, they were very popular in Early Modern Spain. Following earlier models, van der Hamen developed a distinctively Spanish type of bodegón characterized by its austerity and the presence of a few everyday foodstuffs arranged with strict geometrical symmetry. This type of composition was subsequently imitated by many other painters, as van der Hamen was the most important and successful still-life painter in Madrid during the first third of the seventeenth century.

Unlike religious paintings, whose principal purpose was to transmit a specific message and affect the viewer in a particular way, bodegones were appreciated first and foremost for their decorative character. Therefore, they were hung in dining rooms and sometimes in less prominent locations such as the spaces above doors. Some still-life paintings, such as this one, also reflect on the social customs of the time: Seventeenth-century Spaniards were fond of receiving visitors at home, and would offer their guests a variety of preserves, pastries, and luxury products such as perfumed waters and chocolate brought from the Indies.

Van der Hamen chose several different objects because of their similar shapes and sizes and their contrasting textures and colors, and he arranged them in a rectangular space that was meant to read as a window sill or a fresquera, a recess in the stone wall of a pantry that was used to keep food cold. The hard geometry of the space is softened by several nicks and imperfections on the ledge, which also add verisimilitude to the composition. A strong light, coming from two different directions, creates a strong contrast between light and shadow. All the elements are arranged architecturally, as is typical of van der Hamen, with a larger and taller element at the center flanked by smaller elements on either side. The two boxes made of thin wood are of a type that would probably have been used to keep hard fruit preserves, such as membrillo (quince paste). The translucent quality of the candied oranges, lemons, plums, figs, and carrots is masterfully rendered, and the sparkling touches on the highlights of the brittle frosting are one of van der Hamen’s trademarks. Among the other foods represented are cakes and buns, pastas (biscuits), and rosquillas (small hard doughnutlike pastries). Treats such as these evidence the Moorish influence on Spanish culture; recipes for these and similar foods appear in medieval Arab cookbooks and can still be found in the north of Africa. Small barrels like the one on the right would have been used to keep arrope, a type of grape jelly, and the round glass jars with paper lids tied with string seem to contain cherries preserved in syrup or liquor. The way in which van der Hamen suggests the various textures, such as the smoothness of the round glass or the brittle quality of the frosting on the fruits, is one of the skills that made his reputation.

Still-life paintings were often done in matching pairs or larger series. The present painting was conceived as one of a pair, its mate now to be found in the collection of the Banco de España. Besides having the same dimensions, the overall scheme of the compositions and the weight of the different volumes in the two canvases are identical, and some elements are designed to rhyme with one another, such as the candied carrots pointing inward in one canvas and outward in the other. This is one of van der Hamen’s most accomplished paintings, and it was an important landmark in the development of the still life in Madrid (Pérez d´Ors, P.: El Greco to Goya. Masterpieces from the Prado Museum, Museo de Arte de Ponce, 2012, p. 130).

Technical data

Inventory number
P007743
Author
Hamen y León, Juan van der
Title
Still-Life with a Basket and Sweetmeats
Date
1622
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 84 cm.; Width: 105 cm.
Provenance
Private collection, Jativa; Julio Cavestany, Marquis of Moret, Madrid; Almudena Cavestany Bastida, Madrid; acquired for the Prado Museum with funds from the Villaescusa Legacy, 2000.

Bibliography +

Lafuente Ferrari, Enrique, La peinture de bodegones en Espagne, Gazette des beaux-arts, XIV, 1935, pp. 169-183.

Cavestany, Julio, Floreros y bodegones en la pintura española: catalogo ilustr, Sociedad Española de Amigos del Arte, Madrid, 1936, pp. 28.

L'Oeil : revue d'art., L'OEIL, 1963, pp. 24-31.

Jordan, W.B., ''Juan van der Hamen y León: a madrilenian still-life painter'', Marsyas, 12, 1964-1965, pp. 52-69.

Jordan, W.B., Juan van der Hamen y León, Nueva York, 1967, pp. nº9.

Bergstrom, Ingvar, Maestros Españoles de bodegones y floreros del S. XVII, Insula, Madrid, 1970, pp. 32.

Triadó, J.R., Juan van der Hamen, bodegonista, Estudios Pro Arte, 1975, pp. 31-76.

Jordan, W.B., Spanish still life in the Golden Age: 1600-1650, Kimbell Art Museum, Forth Worth, 1985, pp. nº18.

Du Greco a Goya: chefs-d'oeuvre du Prado et de collections e, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Ginebra, 1989, pp. 40.

Jordan, William B., Spanish Still Life From Velazquez To Goya, National Gallery, Londres, 1995, pp. 76.

Cherry, Peter, Arte y naturaleza: el bodegón español en el siglo de oro, Ediciones Doce Calles, Aranjuez, 1999, pp. 165.

Milicua, José, El bodegón español: de Zurbarán a Picasso, Fundación Bilbao Bizkaia KutxaMuseo de Bellas Arte, Bilbao, 1999, pp. 96.

Adquisiciones del año 2000, Museo del Prado: Memoria de Actividades, Madrid, 2000, pp. 42.

Obras Maestras del Museo del Prado, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, 2002, pp. nº 51.

Jordan, William B., Juan Van Der Hamen y Leon y la Corte de Madrid, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 2005, pp. nº8.

Luna, J.J. (Com.), De Tiziano a Goya : grandes maestros del Museo del Prado =Fr..., Museo Nacional del Prado: SEACEX, Madrid, 2007, pp. 212.

Luna, Juan J., El bodegón español en el Prado: de Van der Hamen a Goya, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2008, pp. 54/55.

Del Greco a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado, Museo de Arte de Ponce. MNP. AC/E, 2012, pp. 76-77.

La apariencia de lo real. Cincuenta años de arte realista en España (1960-2010), Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga,, Málaga, 2017, pp. 86-87 n.19.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2549.

Exhibitions +

Velázquez and the Golden Age
Barcelona
16.11.2018 - 03.03.2019

La apariencia de lo real
Málaga
06.04.2017 - 10.09.2017

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Sevilla
01.10.2016 - 01.01.2017

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Valencia
01.06.2016 - 01.09.2016

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
La Coruña
09.05.2016 - 29.05.2016

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
15.10.2015 - 16.01.2016

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Cádiz
12.06.2015 - 20.09.2015

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Zaragoza
04.02.2015 - 17.05.2015

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Tarragona
17.09.2014 - 04.01.2015

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Lérida
14.02.2014 - 20.07.2014

Los objetos hablan. Colecciones del Museo del Prado
Gerona
23.10.2013 - 19.01.2014

From El Greco to Goya: Masterpieces from the Museo del Prado
Ponce, Puerto Rico
25.03.2012 - 16.07.2012

El bodegón español en el Prado
Alcoi
24.03.2011 - 26.06.2011

El bodegón español en el Prado
Murcia
11.03.2010 - 06.06.2010

El bodegón español en el Prado
Valladolid
12.10.2009 - 14.02.2010

El bodegón español en el Prado
25.06.2009 - 20.09.2009

El bodegón español en el Prado
31.03.2009 - 31.05.2009

El bodegón español en el Prado
24.09.2008 - 30.11.2008

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
Shanghai
13.09.2007 - 12.11.2007

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
Beijing
29.06.2007 - 24.08.2007

Juan van der Hamen y León y la corte de Madrid
Dallas
16.03.2006 - 28.05.2006

Juan van der Hamen y León y la corte de Madrid
Madrid
20.10.2005 - 22.01.2006

Obras Maestras del Museo del Prado - Tokio
Tokio
05.03.2002 - 23.06.2002

El bodegón español. de Zurbarán a Picasso
Bilbao
03.12.1999 - 19.04.2000

Location +

Room 008A (On Display)

Expuesto

Displayed objects +

Basketry

Recipient

Update date: 25-07-2019 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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