Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


LAURENS CRAEN (Active Middleburg 1649 – after 1664)

Still Life of a Roemer Surrounded by Vine Tendrils, Pasglas, Pipe, Oranges on a Pewter Plate, Lemon, Tobacco, Brazier and Tapers on a Draped Table

indistinctly inscribed including R___?__ Taback on the tobacco paper in the middle left

oil on canvas

25 ½ x 28 ½ inches          (65 x 73 cm.)


Private Collection, Switzerland

Private Collection, 1981

Anonymous sale, Sotheby’s, London, November 30, 1983, lot 83 (erroneously as by Hubert van Ravesteyn)



Amsterdam, Kunsthandel Hoogendijk, Zeeldzame meesters uit de 17e eeuw, 1932, catalogue no. 19

London, Marshall Spink Ltd., November 19 – January 28, 1981 (erroneously as by Hubert van Ravesteyn with a certificate from Dr. W. Bernt)



N.R.A. Vroom, De Schilders van het Monochrome Banketje, Amsterdam, 1945, no. 107, illustrated 107 (as by Laurens Craen)

N.R.A. Vroom, A Modest Message as intimated by the painters of the Monochrome Banketje, Interbook International B.V., Schiedam, 1980, vol. I, pp. 139, 241-242, fig. 326, illustrated, vol. II, p. 44, no. 199, fig. 326 (as by Laurens Craen and as present location unknown)

Sam Segal, “Still-lifes by Middleburg painters, Laurens Craen” in Masters of Middleburg, Kunsthandel K. & V. Waterman B.V., Amsterdam, 1984, p. 83, fn. 1 (as by Laurens Craen)


Only about twenty paintings by Laurens Craen are known.  He was active in Middleburg by 1649 at which point he offered his services to the court in The Hague.  His earlier works from the mid-1640s show the influence of Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1684).  It is believed that Johannes Borman (active by 1658) whose style reflects Craen’s, was a pupil in Middleburg possibly during the early 1650s. [1]

Although his known works are few they are easily recognizable.  Characteristic features, as displayed in our work, include the use of oblique lighting that is simultaneously clear and soft with a palette comprised of brown, green, yellow and orange, with the compositions topped off by a vine.  The underside of the vine is lightly colored.  Small seeds, as from an orange, are scattered about along with thin sticks, or as depicted here, tapers.  In our work by thickly applying paint to create a series of small lumps along the lemon’s surface, Craen’s realistic rendering borders on trompe l’oeil.  The element of a curled lemon peel flowing from a roemer is also typical.  His tables are wooden and usually partially covered by a cloth.  Backgrounds, as again here in evidence, tend to be comprised of a vertical corner where the wall recedes, usually on the right side. [2]

The pipe and the glowing embers of the brazier indicate that this is a vanitas.  The half empty glasses and tobacco refer to the fleetingness of earthly pleasures.  The smoke produced by the tapers, brazier and pipe allude to the transience of life.  Oranges are the traditional symbol for redemption as the lemon is for salvation.

We are grateful to Fred G. Meijer for also confirming the painting to be by Laurens Craen, and who believes it to possibly date from the 1650s.



[1] Fred G. Meijer, “Johannes Borman,” in The Collection of Dutch and Flemish Still-Life Paintings Bequeathed by Daisy Linda Ward, The Ashmolean Museum Oxford, Waanders Publishers, Zwolle, 2003, p. 177.

[2] Sam Segal, op. cit., p. 81.

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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