STUDIO OF JAN VAN KESSEL I
Grapes and Peaches Spilling From an overturned Delft Bowl with Blackberries, Figs, Pomegranates, Grapes, a Pear and Peaches on a Wooden Table with a Monkey Gazing at a Butterfly and a Parrot Eyeing a Dragonfly
oil on copper
6 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches (16.5 x 21.6 cm.)
Private Collection, United States
Although a number of these delightful small copper panels, painted in the style of Jan van Kessel I (1626-1679), depicting flowers, fruit, vegetables and animals are known, the identity of the artist is not. Traditionally given to the artist’s son Jan van Kessel II (1654 – 1708), no evidence exists that he in fact ever painted still lifes. His brother, Ferdinand van Kessel I (1648–1696), who was trained by Jan I inherited his Antwerp workshop and continued its practices, would appear to be the more likely source. 
Set upon a roughly hewn tabletop, placed against a dark background, exotic and costly objects lay scattered. The inherent plainness of the surroundings serves to underscore the richness of its components. The copper medium enhances the objects’ vivid tonality with the blues of the porcelain contrasting yet harmonizing with the fruit and animals’ warmth. Ours is a splendid example of these whimsical panels that celebrate the earth’s bounty being enjoyed or fought over by a dizzying array of animals, which besides monkeys and parrots may include cats, dogs, doves, tortoises, guinea pigs, roosters, squirrels, or rabbits. Although variants of a theme, they are not repetitive as the elements from panel to panel are in constant flux.
We are grateful to Fred G. Meijer for his help in preparing this entry.
 Adriaan van der Willigen & Fred G. Meijer, “Jan (II) van Kessel” in A Dictionary of Dutch and Flemish Still Life Painters Working in Oils, 1525-1725, Primavera Press, Leiden, 2003, p. 124.