Still-life of a watermelon, cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, pomegranate and figs with lilies, roses, morning glory and other flowers on an acanthus stone relief, a mountainous landscape beyond

ABRAHAM BRUEGHEL (1631-1697)

Still-life of a watermelon, cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, pomegranate and figs with lilies, roses, morning glory and other flowers on an acanthus stone relief, a mountainous landscape beyond

1631 Netherlands

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Of all the European artists who made their way to Italy during the seventeenth century to study at the fountainhead of art, the still life and the landscape painters of Flanders demonstrated the greatest capacity to assimilate the native culture and to enter the mainstream of Italian society. This phenomenon was exemplified in its every detail by the career of the still-life painter Abraham Brueghel.

Abraham Brueghel was the most talented and successful son of Jan Brueghel the Younger. He was trained by his father, who had already sold a small flower painting by his son when Abraham was just fifteen years old. Like his grandfather Jan Brueghel the Elder, also known as the Velvet Brueghel, Abraham travelled to Italy, as was the custom for many young aspiring artists to complete their training and gain invaluable experience before returning home. However Brueghel never returned to Flanders. He settled in Rome where he quickly established a reputation for his still lifes. Already in 1649 an inventory of his patron Prince Antonio Ruffo records nine flower paintings by the eighteen-year-old artist. At some time in the 1670s Brueghel moved to Naples, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Abraham’s principal influences were the increasingly lush styles of three Flemish forerunners, who had also worked in Italy: Frans Snyders, Jan Fyt and Pieter Boel. Onto his native predilection for decorative profusion and anecdote, Brueghel seamlessly grafted the sweeping movement of the High Baroque style of his Italian contemporaries, such as Michelangelo Campidoglio and Michelangelo Cerquozzi. The result can be found in compositions that appear to have been conceived with remarkable casualness, but which still maintain the firmness of composition and clarity of detail associated with the artist’s Northern heritage.

Due to the relative constancy of the artist’s mature style and the scarcity of dated works, it has proved difficult to trace the chronology of the Abraham’s artistic development. Generally it would appear that his brushstrokes were slightly more painterly during his Roman period, while his colouring became brighter and stronger during his later years. The present picture has been dated to the second half of the 1670s by Fred Meijer, who notes that the crispness of detail, the smooth handling and the strength of colour are all characteristic of his later style.
Dimensions
Height 135.60 cm (53.39 inches)
Width 176.50 cm (69.49 inches)
Medium
Oil on canvas
Signed/Inscribed
Signed lower left: ABrughel. Fe (AB linked)
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