barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


JAN DAVIDSZ DE HEEM (1606 – 1683/4)

A Still Life with a Nautilus Cup

Leiden, Holland, 1632

Oil on wood

77.5 x 64.7 cm

 

The objects are arranged to demonstrate the artist’s skill in showing the play of light on different materials.

The focus is a precious drinking cup made from a nautilus shell.  Around it, in a carefully planned disorder, are silver vessels which set up a series of complex reflections.  These hard forms are contrasted with the different textures of a bunch of grapes, walnuts and a lemon – cut and peeled.  De Heem achieved his astonishing illusion with only a few colours.

 

Purchased 1941 (No.41.2)

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