AELST, Willem van
(b. 1627, Delft, d. ca. 1683, Amsterdam)

Still-Life with Mouse and Candle

Oil on copper, 19 x 25 cm
Private collection

Although Van Aelst is most admired for elegant still-lifes with fine glassware, silver vessels, fruit and flowers, this representation of humbler motifs must be considered one of his finest early work. The subject here is a 'vanitas', with a recently extinguished candle set in a holder on a stone ledge, and a mouse nibbling at walnut crumbs.

Although mice occur in 17th-century still-lifes (e.g. in paintings by Abraham van Beyeren, Georg Flegel, Jacob Vosmaer), the specific combination of a mouse and an expired candle is unique.