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Title Still Life of Birds and Fruit on a Table
Collection Fairfax House, York
Artist Steenwyck, Harmen van (Dutch painter, 1612-ca.1656)
Date Earliest about 1635
Date Latest about 1655
Description Lit by a light source coming from the top left, which informs the diagonal composition, this work is a fine example of a Vanitas painting. Still life pictures of this type, symbolising the vanity and transience of human life, began to be popular in Holland by the 1620s. The Biblical source is Ecclesiastes (chapters 1-7) and painting of this kind came to be known as ‘Vanitas'; the term was used in the seventeenth century. The fish seems to be a carp, or of that family, a species which were kept in fishponds for winter food. A young rabbit lies side by side with a gourd and a bittern, as well as a mallard, a thrush, and a chaffinch. The grapes seem to be wine-grapes; they are pictured with peaches or apricots, and quinces. The table is draped with a green cloth. Perhaps the most interesting elements are the red parakeet feeding on some grapes on top of a wine-jar, and a crack painted in the top right of the painting, as if to hint at the instability and transience of even the most solid objects.
Current Accession Number NT1984/016
Former Accession Number P1
Subject still life (fruit; game); bird (parakeet)
Measurements 43.0 x 56 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Noel Terry 1984.
Provenance Purchased by Noel Terry in 1923 from the art dealer Sheridan. Ć
Principal Exhibitions Brown, Peter, The Noel Terry Collection of Furniture and Clocks, York, 1987, p. 132, fig. 135.
Rights Owner Fairfax House, York
Author Dr Ruth Stewart



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