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Title Preparations for a Feast
Alternative Title Kitchen Scene: Preparing for a Feast
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to Dutch (Delft) School
Attributed to Dutch (Haarlem) School
Previously attributed to school of Aertsen, Pieter (Netherlandish painter, born 1507 or 1508, died 1575)
Previously attributed to Delff, Cornelis Jacobsz. (Dutch painter, 1571-1643)
Date Earliest about 1600
Date Latest about 1625
Description This painting is an example of a genre which developed during the sixteenth century in the Netherlands in which a biblical story takes place in the background and still life and genre elements depicting a kitchen or market dominate the foreground. Here, the background scene is more subtle showing a table set for a meal which could be an allusion to the Last Supper. The faces are highly individualised, especially that of the serving woman larding a hare. The meaning of this type of painting exists in the contrast between the foreground depiction of the material world and the spiritual content of the background scene. Here, the subtlety of the background scene indicates a later date than that suggested by the attribution to Aertsen. In this sense, it represents not only the end of the sixteenth century tradition but also the beginning of a new one, looking forward to the development of still-life painting.
Current Accession Number 1925P344
Former Accession Number P.34425
Subject everyday life (kitchen scene); religion (Last Supper)
Measurements 93.5 x 169.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by J. Arthur Kenrick 1925.
Principal Exhibitions Art Treasures of the Midlands Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 1934, cat. no. 301; Welsh Art Council, 1970, cat. no. 204; Central Museum and Art Gallery, 1965; Manchester Art Gallery, 1965; De Rembrandt Vermeer, Grand Palais, Paris, 1986, cat. no. 35 as 'Ecole de Haarlem ou de Delft'; Images of a Golden Age, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 1989, cat. no. 104, pl. 1.
Publications Wright, C., Images of a Golden Age, p. 110, no. 104, pl. 1; De Rembrandt Vermeer, no. 35 as Ecole de Haarlem o de Delft, Grand Palais, Paris, 1986, p. 63; Brown, C., 'Meaning and Contrast in a picture from the circle of Pieter Aertsen', Burlington Magazine, vol. 116, 1974, p.210; Moxey, K. P. F., 'A 'Kitchen Scene' in Birmingham', Burlington Magazine, vol. 116, 1974, p.477 (reply to C. Brown); Brown, C., 'A 'Kitchen Scene' in Birmingham', Burlington Magazine, vol. 116, 1974, p.477 (reply to Moxey); Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983, no. 1, ill.
Notes Keith P. F. Moxey suggests an attribution to Floris van Schooten (1974). Attribution to Cornelis J. Delff was made by H. Gerson. R. Ekkart has suggested an attribution of Cornelis Engelsz. Verspronck (1985). Dr P. J. J. van Thiel (RKD) suggests Michiel van Mierevelt in light of the highly individuated face of the serving woman (1985). B. Brenninkmeyer-De Rooij (RKD) doubts the Delff attribution and affirms that it is either Delft or Haarlem School, first quarter of the seventeenth century, therefore, ruling out Aertsen. However, Dr Christopher Brown (National Gallery) affirms that it may be Cornelis Jacobsz Delff and thinks it should be dated about 1597. Elements that suggest a later date, ruling out Aertsen are:

1. Softness of handling, absence of glittering hardness and virtuosity

2. Ambiguity of subject. No overt reference to a religious scene in the background

3. The spatial relationship with the restricted view of the background is more typical of seventeenth century exponents of this genre

4. Strongly individualised faces.

For a list of seventeenth century artists influenced by Aertsen who practised this genre see Bruyn, J. Oud Holland, vol. 66, 1951, pp. 45-50. Wright (1989) argues that 'the search for an author of this picture must concentrate on Aertsen's Amsterdam pupil, Pieter Pietersz (died 1603)' who continued Aertsen's style.

Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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