Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


SEBASTIAN STOSKOPFF (Strasbourg 1597 – Idstein 1657)

A Still-life of Drinking Vessels, a Pineapple Cup, a Lemon, Bread and Two Small Books

oil on canvas

in a mid-sixteenth century aged antique gold Venetian style frame with an open carved drum of slightly reversed position and auricular motifs in the carvings

19 1/4 x 23 3/8 inches          (49.3 x 59.5 cm.)


Private collection, United States


Sebastian Stoskopff was born in Strasbourg, in the northeast of France, in 1597. At the age of 17, he was sent to Hanau, Germany, to study under the painter Daniel Soreau, initially for a trial period of six months. He must have been quite successful since after Soreau’s death, four years later, Stoskopff was chosen from among the pupils to take charge of the studio. He remained in Hanau for several more years, working with Soreau’s sons Isaak and Peter, both still-life painters, as well as Peter Binoit and Franz Godin. In 1622, the painter left Hanau and settled in Paris. During the late 1620s he journeyed to Italy, where Joachim Sandrart met him in Venice in 1629, but by 1630 he was back in Paris, where he would work for the next decade, although he was alsorecorded as working for Baron Guichard du Vouldys in Troyes in 1633. By 1641, he was back in his native city of Strassbourg where he spent the rest of his life.

Although, according to the records, the multi-talented Daniel Soreau educated his pupil in various fields, architecture and playing the lute among them, Stoskopff’s main talent was obviously that of a painter. He seems to have been drawn to still-life painting from the outset of his career, even though the unfinished paintings by Daniel Soreau that he is known to have completed after the latter’s death may not have been still-lifes. Discussions about which paintings belong or do not belong in Stoskopff’s early oeuvre have not ended yet, but from his earliest known dated painting, a still-life of books from 1625, the picture of the scope and development of his oeuvre can be quite clear.

Our still-life, which is a new addition to Sebastian Stoskopff’s oeuvre, can be placed firmly among his known still-lifes from the 1640s, and as such must have originated in Strasbourg. One of the artist’s major works from this period, a large and impressive Vanitas still-life in the Musée de l’Oeuvre Notre Dame in Strasbourg, dated 1641, includes a row of three ostentatious silver-gilt cups-and-cover, interspersed with two silver beakers with gilt rims.[1]

These beakers and the pineapple shaped cup to the right in that painting are closely related to the examples in our still-life. It is interesting to note that, judging from a repentir that is still vaguely visible, Stoskopff may initially have planned a cup with a gold-mounted coconut in our still-life, before deciding on one of his favoured pineapple cups. The gold-rimmed cups appear in several other examples of the artist’s works, also turned upside-down like here, and accompanied by a rummer like the one shown in our still-life.[2] The rummer, again together with a curly bread roll, re-appears in a still-life from 1644.[3] The larger bread in the present still-life does not appear to recur in any other known work by Stoskopff, but a very similar baking can be found in a still-life by Theodor Roos (1638-1698) that was clearly strongly inspired by Stoskopff.[4]

One may wonder whether still-lifes such as this one have any profound intended iconography. Some of Stoskopff’s still-lifes are explicit Vanitases, others allude to the seasons or to learning, but a still-life such as this one would appear to have been painted primarily for its display of the artist’s skill in rendering textures and the play of light. The two small books to the right may have been added intentionally, however, as ‘food for thought’ as opposed to the displayed physical food and drink. But most of all, such a painting must have been – and still is – food for the eye.                                                                                   

                                                            Fred G. Meijer



[1] Oil on canvas, 125 x 165 cm. B. Hahn-Woerle, Sebastian Stoskopff, Stuttgart 1996, cat. no.  49.

[2] Oil on panel, 49 x 60.3 cm. Hahn-Woerle (see note 1), cat. no. 58 (dated 1644, Private collection, Canada).

[3] Oil on canvas, 35 x 33 cm. Hahn-Woerle (see note 1) cat. no. 59 (Private collection).

[4] Strasbourg, Musée de l’Oeuvre Notre Dame, illustrated in exhibition catalogue, Sebastian Stoskopff 1597-1657, Ein Meister des Stillebens,Strasbourg/Aachen 1997, p.45, fig. 12.

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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