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Still Life with Flowers, a Silver-gilt Goblet, Dried Fruit, Sweetmeats, Bread sticks, Wine and a Pewter Pitcher
Peeters, Clara
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Peeters, Clara

Antwerp (?), 1588 - Antwerp (?), 1621

Peeters, Clara See author's file

Still Life with Flowers, a Silver-gilt Goblet, Dried Fruit, Sweetmeats, Bread sticks, Wine and a Pewter Pitcher

1611. Oil on panel.
Room 082

It has often been stated that this painting is part of a series of four, all now in the Prado, but that is probably not the case. The dimensions of all four paintings (P1619, P1620, P1621, P1622) are similar, but their provenance is not. This, and Table with Cloth, Salt Cellar, Gilt Standing Cup, Pie, Jug, Porcelain Plate with Olives and Cooked Fowl (P1622), are first documented when they were inventoried in 1746 in the Spanish royal collection. They remained there until they entered the Prado. The other two paintings (P1619 y P1621) are very likely recorded in the Spanish royal collection in 1666. Suggestions that the four Prado paintings represent the four elements or seasons are based on the idea that they are all part of a series, which we now know was not the case. The royal inventories show that this painting and Table with Cloth, Salt Cellar, Gilt Standing Cup, Pie, Jug, Porcelain Plate with Olives and Cooked Fowl were displayed as a pair. Beyond this fact, there is nothing specific in the two paintings to suggest that they were conceived as a set.

The composition of this painting carefully balances two principles. The objects appear casually laid on the table in apparently random order. The goal of the artist is to make the scene look lifelike. Simultaneously, the painter has labored to provide a clear and frontal view of all that is displayed. This paradoxical combination is heir to late sixteenth-century artists such as Joris Hoefnagel (1542–1601), who created hybrid images where the didactic goals of scientific illustrations were mixed with a more aesthetic approach. The flowers in this painting are another reminder of the connections of still life paintings to early scientific illustrations. By about 1550, prints reproducing animals and plants made with a didactic intention had become a specialty of Antwerp. Painters making still lifes in the early seventeenth century sometimes used these images as sources for their works. The daffodil or narcissus at the top of the bouquet in this picture is similar to one of the flowers in an engraving by Adriaen Collaert of the 1580; Peeters may well have based her flower on that image.

On the gilt goblet and the pewter flagon, both of which are similar to vessels in other works by Peeters, the artist painted her self-portrait – three times in the goblet and four on the pewter jug. The abundance of signatures and reflected self-portraits in paintings by Peeters is a form of assertion, perhaps explained because she was a woman in a profession dominated by men. By painting herself she also emphasises the illusionism of the painting; we have a sense that we actually see her as she paints. Aside from the self-portraits, painting reflections was a challenge to artists that was part of artistic tradition and was recorded in the literature. The shiny, mirroring surfaces that we see in this painting demonstrate that Peeters enthusiastically accepted this challenge. The fluted façon de Venise glass in the background is of a type that was being made in Antwerp by Italian glassblowers at the time. The red wine in the glass was an import, probably from France, Italy or Spain. The Danish historian Johannes Pontanus, writing in 1614 about products that existed in Amsterdam, identified wine, oil, salt, raisins and figs as having a Spanish origin. Raisins from Málaga are also mentioned among the cargo of a ship arriving in Dunkirk in February of 1589. In this picture we see these fruits, together with almonds and sugar candy, in a large bianchi di Faenza vessel, a type of earthenware made in Faenza in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Curiously, very similar bowls are included in a still life by Juan van der Hamen (1596–1631) painted in Spain and in another by Roelof Koets (c. 1592/93–1654) probably painted in Haarlem. It appears that these were bowls worthy of being displayed and painted. Dried figs, raisins and almonds substituted for fruits such as apples, pears and cherries as snacks in the winter. Almonds were also used to make tarts, puddings and many sweets. On, and near the pewter plate are biscuits and sugar candy. The half-eaten pretzel, like the miniature self-portraits, suggests that someone has been at this table, contributing to make the illusion represented in the painting seem real. It is sometimes stated that this still life has an implicit vanitas theme, with the wine, flowers and self-portraits alluding to the fragile nature of life. This is based on the preconceived notion that all still lifes have a hidden symbolic meaning, an idea that is impossible to confirm. For the artist making this picture and for the people who saw it, what mattered most was probably the display of artistic skill and the associations of the objects depicted with a social position of distinction.

Incised with a stamp on the back of the panel is the mark ‘RB’, which belongs to an unidentified panel maker, and which has also been found in other Antwerp paintings from the early seventeenth century. The infrared image of the picture provides some clues about the working methods of Clara Peeters: a vertical line drawn with black pencil marks the vertical axis of the silver-gilt goblet. It is placed in the exact centre of the panel. Another similar line type crosses the pewter plate to the right from top to bottom. In this case it is slightly to one side of the axis of the plate; Peeters must have originally planned to place it slightly to the left. These lines served as aids to paint the different objects; similar lines are more clearly visible in other of her works. A good amount of underdrawing is visible along the contours of the goblet, and some also on the vase that holds the flowers. Much of it appears to be freehand, but some is regular enough to suggest the use of a stencil or another mechanical aid.

(Text from Vergara, Alejandro (ed.), El Arte de Clara Peeters, Madrid y Amberes, Museo Nacional del Prado, Koniklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 2016, pp. 68-71)


Technical data

Inventory number
Peeters, Clara
Still Life with Flowers, a Silver-gilt Goblet, Dried Fruit, Sweetmeats, Bread sticks, Wine and a Pewter Pitcher
Height: 52 cm; Width: 73 cm
Royal Collection (Collection of Isabel Farnesio, Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, Segovia, “pieza de la chimenea junto al tocador”, 1746, nº680; La Granja Palace, “pieza cuadrada inmediata al dormitorio”, 1766, nº680; La Granja Palace, 1794, nº680; Royal Palace, Madrid, “dormitorio de príncipes-pieza séptima”, 1814-1818, nº 680).

Bibliography +

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier y Beroqui, Pedro, Inventarios Reales en 12 Volumenes y Un Indice (Fotocopias) (procedencia/provenance), Madrid, 1923.

Harris, Ann Sutherland y Nochlin, Linda, Women Artist : 1550-1950, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1976, pp. 33.

Decoteau, Pamela Hibbs, Clara Peeters: 1594-ca. 1640 and the development of still-life painting in northern Europe, Luca Verlang, Lingen, 1992, pp. 17, 20-21, 178, ill. 4.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, El siglo de Rubens en el Museo del Prado : catálogo razonado, Prensa Iberica, Barcelona, 1995, pp. 800-801.

Anes, Gonzalo, Las colecciones reales y la fundación del Museo del Prado, Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 180.

Aterido, A.; Martínez Cuesta, J.; Pérez Preciado, J. J., Colecciones de pinturas de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio: inventarios reales, II, Fundacion de Apoyo de la Historia, Madrid, 2004.

Cherry, Peter; Loughman, John y Stevenson, Lesley, In the presence of things : four centuries of European still-life painting, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisboa, 2010, pp. 146-147.

Lenders, A, 'Clara Peeters pone la mesa. Objetos y alimentos ante la mirada de un espectador del siglo XVIII' En:, El arte de Clara Peeters, Museo Nacional del Prado, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten., Madrid, Amberes, 2016, pp. 48-65 [54,58,61,62].

Vergara, Alejandro, El arte de Clara Peeters, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten; Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2016, pp. 68-71 n.1.

Bastiaensen, Jean, Finding Clara: Establishing the Biographical details of Clara Peeters (ca.1587- after 1636), Boletín del Museo del Prado., XXXIV, 2016, pp. 17-31 [1b, 119].

Vergara, A, 'Reflejos de arte y cultura en los cuadrod de Clara Peeters' En:, El arte de Clara Peeters, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten , Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2016, pp. 12-47 [23,30,35].

Buvelot, Q.B, 'Clara Peeters. Still life with flowers and delicacies' En:, Slow Food: Dutch and Flemish Meal Still Lifes, 1600-1640, Mauritshus ; Waanders,, 2017, pp. 148-153 n.14.

González García, Carmen, Repetición y renovación. Un comentario sobre la pintura de objetos y cosas a porósito de la obra de Clara Peeters, Liño, 24, 2018, pp. 45-57 [49-52 f.1].

Jover de Celis, Maite, Las marcas de fabricación como herramienta de datación en los soportes de madera de la pintura flamenca del siglo XVII en el Museo del Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXVII n 55-57, 2019-2021, pp. 96-109 [100 f.4 Tabla II p.104].

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1191.
Clara Peters. / 1191. Flores y comestibles. / Alto 1 pie, 10 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 2 pies, 7 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1191.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1527.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 1620.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 1620.

Inv. Isabel Farnesio, La Granja, 1746. Núm. 680.
679-680 / Otras dos Pinturas en Tabla de mano Flamenca, que reptª el uno, una Costrada, dos Pollos assados, cada uno sobre plato de peltre, un pan, una Ensaladera de Talavera con Aceytunas, y otras cosas, todo en una Messa con Mantel blanco: Y el otro una Ensaladera con Higos, pasas, Almendras, y confites, un Jarro con Flores, y un Plato de Peltre con rosquillas; tambien sobre una Messa de color ceniciento. Tienen a dos pies menos un dedo de alto, y tres menos nuebe de ancho, marcos dorados lisos ... 2

Inv. Testamentaría Isabel Farnesio, La Granja, 1766. Núm. 680.
Pieza quadrada immediata al Dormitorio [...] 679, 680 / Dos pinturas de tres pies de largo, por dos y medio de alto, marco dorado liso, que representan, la una una fuente con una torta, y otras cosas, la otra un florero, con otras varias cosas valen tres mil rrs

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, La Granja, 1794. Núm. 680.
{2398} 680 / Otra [pintura] lo mismo [en tabla, de tres pies de largo por dos y quarto de alto, marco dorado liso] que representa un Florero y unos dulces una Ensaladera y un Plato en mil y quinientos reales. Ydem [Clara Petres] ... 1500

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 680.
Dormitorio de Principes [...] Pieza septima [...] {21732-31733} 679-680 / Vara de largo tres quartas alto, una empanadados pollos asados y otras varias viandas sobre una mesa con mantel = Clara Peters

Inscriptions +

CLARA . P . Ao . 1611 .
Signed and dated. Front, lower left corner

Fleur-de-lis, used as a collection’s mark belonging to Elisabeth Farnese. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

ELISABETH / DEI GRATIA / HISPANIARVM / REGINA [escudos acolados de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio]
Stenciled. Back

RB [Maestro RB, 1611]
Panel maker mark. Back

Inscribed with black pencil. Back

Exhibitions +

06.06.2020 - 25.07.2021

Slow Food: Still Lifes of the Golden Age
La Haya
09.03.2017 - 25.06.2017

The Art of Clara Peeters
25.10.2016 - 19.02.2017

Clara Peeters
16.06.2016 - 02.10.2016

La estética de la Edad Moderna en femenino
23.02.2012 - 02.09.2012

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

L'Arte delle donne. Dal Rinascimento al Surrealismo
01.12.2007 - 06.04.2008

Die antwerpener malerschule 1550-1650 (La Escuela de Amberes 1550-1650)
01.04.1993 - 20.06.1993

Die antwerpener malerschule 1550-1650 (La Escuela de Amberes 1550-1650)
19.12.1992 - 07.03.1993

Die antwerpener malerschule 1550-1650 (La Escuela de Amberes 1550-1650)
04.09.1992 - 22.11.1992

Location +

Room 082 (On Display)


Displayed objects +

Foodstuffs: Frutos secos y rosquillas

Wine: El vino tinto de la copa era importado, probablemente de Francia, Italia o España.

Fruitbowl / Fruit Arrangement: Frutero grande "bianchi di Faenza", un tipo de loza fabricada en Faenza a finales del siglo XVI y principios del XVII

Glasses and Goblets

Update date: 02-06-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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