JACQUES DE CLAUEW (Dordrecht 1623 – Leiden 1694)
Flower Still Life
signed and dated J claeuw. 1651
oil on panel
26 x 18 ½ inches (66 x 47 cm.)
Kunsthandel P. de Boer, Amsterdam, 1966 – 1967
Galerie Silvano Lodi, Campione d’Italia, 1974
Dr. Hermann, Cologne
Amsterdam, Kunsthandel P. de Boer, Collection d’Hiver, 1966 – 1967, no. 9
On loan to Dordrechts Museum, 2008 – 2012
L.J. Bol, Holländische Malerei des 17. Jahrunderts nahe der grossen Meistern, 1969, p. 343
Born in Dordrecht in 1623, Jacques de Claeuw, otherwise known as Jacques Grief, is best known for his breakfast and vanitas still lifes.  In 1646, he moved to The Hague where he became a member of the St Luke Guild. His floral still lifes show the influence of Abraham van Beyeren, who also lived in The Hague at the time. De Claeuw married one of the daughters of the landscape painter Jan van Goyen and was also the brother-in-law of Jan Steen. These two relationships indicate De Clauew’s standing in the tightly knit artistic networks of the Dutch Golden Age. In 1651, de Claeuw moved to Leiden, and eventually lived in Zeeland. Jacques de Claeuw was buried on 7 November 1694 in Leiden.
De Claeuw’s rare flower painting was most likely executed right when he moved to Leiden in 1651. His surviving works are primarily vanitas still lifes, reflecting the prevailing taste in his new hometown. His flower paintings reveal a totally different approach than the traditional style of the time. His brushwork is loose and less precise compared to his contemporaries, demonstrating a more painterly and less scientific approach to his subject. His bouquets are less detailed and more impressionistic with more emphasis on the pictorial aspect than botanical precision.
The present painting is a classic example of De Claeuw’s formulation of the flower still life. The lush, bright flowers project from the dark background in a seemingly spontaneous burst of color. A flame tulip crowns the bouquet that includes a full petalled rose, an iris, lilting poppies, honeysuckle and other blooms. The brightness of the flowers contrasts greatly with the soberness of the background that is executed with broad rough brushstrokes. The colors are applied in patches, which is clearly visible in the red of the almost transparent petals of the tulip. This transformation of nature was conditioned by De Claeuw’s attempt to achieve a soft and pictorial effect. While the flowers may not be as naturalistic as many examples in Dutch still lifes, the artist’s characteristic and lively brushwork animates and distinguishes this delightful bouquet.
 A. van der Willigen & F.G. Meijer, A dictionary of painters working in oils: 1525-1725, Leiden 2003, p. 63