JOHANNES HENDRIK EVERSEN (The Hague 1906 – Arnhem 1995)
Cherries in a Straw Basket
signed J.H. Eversen and dated 1953 in the lower right
oil on canvas
12 x 16 inches (30.2 x 40.6 cm.)
Private Collection, New Jersey, mid-1950s until the present time
Johannes Hendrik Eversen began his painting career studying with The Hague artist Wilhelm Johan Lampe. In 1935 he enrolled at the Heatherley’s School of Art in London where he remained until 1937. Short of funds, he was forced to return to The Hague. Eversen specialized in still-lifes but also executed portraits and landscapes in watercolors and oils. He exhibited works at the Royal Academy, London, from 1939 until 1970. In 1940 he moved to Veere in Zeeland and in 1942 to Ede. The Gemeentemuseum in The Hague owns Eversen’s Stilleven met Pijp (Still Life with Pipe) painted in 1943. In 2006 in commemoration of his 100th birthday, Wim Rijkeboer published the monograph Jan Eversen 1906-1995, Het licht meester, and held a retrospective of his work at the Kernhem House, Ede.
Eversen was inspired by the works of Pieter Claesz, Willem Heda, Jan Davidsz. de Heem and Clara Peters. He sought to emulate their technical proficiency in his own still-lifes. As in Cherries in a Straw Basket, simple objects combined with seasonal fruit often form the basis of his compositions. He collected antique jars, bottles, glasses, bowls, baskets and tin cans, while disregarding the more costly items that would have been shown in a typical seventeenth century work, such as a beautiful goblet. He further collected examples of distressed painted wood, interestingly contrasting their textures within the composition, as in our example. Including what was at hand, cherries were routinely painted in the summer, grapes in the autumn, and cabbage in the winter. In this work, the individualization of each cherry and its reflective light recall Clara Peters, who featured cherries in a number of her works, and also reveal Eversen’s overriding concern with the delineation of light. He believed the most difficult passage of a painting to lie with the transition from a darkened background into the light of the foreground. In Cherries in a Straw Basket, he achieves a brilliant solution. Painted as a trompe l‘oeil, the deeply scored blue planks of the background along with a protruding nail serve to underscore the three-dimensionality of the woven straw basket, enhancing the rotundity of the cherries and bringing into sharp relief the jagged edges of the green leaves. The depth of the composition is traversed by following the vertical flow of the ripples of missing paint across the brown wooden shelf. Like Eversen’s seventeenth century predecessors, a timeless serenity is evoked by imagery that requires no further explanation.
 Pieter A. Scheen, “Johannes Hendrik Eversen” in Lexicon Nederlandse beeldende Kunstenaars 1750-1950, volume I, Pieter A. Scheen, ‘s-Gravenhage, 1969-70, p. 325; Wim Rijkeboer, Jan Eversen 1906-1995, Het licht meester, Drukkerij Veltmann BV, 2006, pp. 8, 49-50.
 Rijkeboer, op.cit., pp. 9, 24, 34.