POTTER, Pieter Symonsz.
(b. ca. 1598, Enkhuizen, d. 1652, Amsterdam)
Dutch family of painters, draughtsmen and etchers. Pieter Symonsz. Potter produced paintings in all the main genres; he was overshadowed by his son, Paulus Potter, with whose works his have often been confused. Pieter signed his paintings P. Potter, whereas Paulus typically signed Paulus Potter. F. 16....
Pieter Symonsz. Potter was the son of Dieuwe Simons and Simon Jacobsz., a glassmaker. He presumably trained with his father as a glass painter in Enkhuizen, where he worked until 1628, when he entered the Leiden glassmakers' guild as a master, becoming its headman in 1629. During the late 1620s, as his interests gradually shifted from glass painting to easel painting, his style became increasingly naturalistic. Whereas his first history scenes, such as Joseph Accused by Potiphar's Wife (1629; private collection), reflect the mannered style of elongated figures and tilted space found in the more conservative field of glass painting, the merry company and history scenes he produced after 1630, such as A Conversation (1631; Prague, National Gallery), represent more naturally proportioned figures and still-lifes carefully arranged within simple, box-like spaces. His clear definition of space in terms of three-dimensional volumes also characterizes his still-lifes. His monochromatic Rustic Still-life (1631; Warsaw, National Museum) of discarded utensils in the corner of a barn is stylistically and thematically close to works by Jan Davidsz. de Heem, while his more tightly and colourfully painted Vanitas Still-life (1636; Berlin, Staatliche Museen) recalls paintings by Harmen van Steenwyk and Pieter van Steenwyk (1615-after 1659) and their uncle David Bailly.
Pieter Potter served as a witness for the baptism of de Heem's son Cornelis in Leiden in 1631 and would also have known the van Steenwyks there. He probably produced his first landscapes in Leiden; a large landscape, which had been purchased directly from him, was the most highly valued painting listed in an inventory of the collection of the Leiden historian Jan Orlers (1570-1646) in 1640. His early monochromatic landscapes suggest the influence of Jan van Goyen, his neighbour in Leiden.