SON, Joris van
(b. 1623, Antwerpen, d. 1667, Antwerpen)

A 'Pronk' Still-Life

Oil on oak panel, 50 x 66 cm
Private collection

The painting depicts a 'pronk' still-life of grapes, cherries, walnuts and a peeled lemon, with oysters on a pewter plate, and a glass roemer, wine glass and gilt goblet, all on a draped table.

'Pronkstilleven' is a type of still-life painting. It is a term that could be translated as 'ostentatious still-life'. These still-lifes displayed an array of luxurious possessions that reflected the lifestyle of the wealthy in seventeenth century Holland. Venetian glass, Chinese porcelain and Turkish carpets bedecked with ornamental gold and silverware were painted as status symbols, to be hung in the homes of the affluent patrons who commissioned them. However the choice of objects was not always for spectacle alone as they sometimes carried a symbolic significance. Although only the rich could afford such rare artefacts, which were usually imported from distant lands, their inclusion in a painting could be interpreted as a patriotic tribute to the prosperity of Dutch trade. The inclusion of citrus fruits alongside wine is often read as encouraging moderation in the use of alcohol, as lemon juice was added to wine to reduce its potency and for medicinal effect.

The painting is signed lower left: J. van. SON . f .

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.