HAMEN, Juan van der
(b. 1596, Madrid, d. 1631, Madrid)

Still-Life with Fruit and Glassware

Oil on canvas, 84 x 11 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

In 1626 van der Hamen made his still-lifes more varied and complex than his early ones by placing objects on different levels. This type of composition seems to have originated in Rome during the early 1620s and is seen in works attributed to Tomasso Salini and Agostino Verrocchi. However, van der Hamen's use of this scheme differs from that of the Roman painters, who liked to scatter a profusion of inanimate objects over the surface. Van der Hamen drastically reduces the number of elements and arranges the remainder into exquisitely balanced, asymmetrical compositions, strongly lit in the Spanish manner. This allows him to concentrate on the rendering of each individual object and thus to enhance the sensation of corporeality and texture.

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