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 Adam De Coster  (1585/6 - 1643)

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Lived/Active: Belgium      Known for: painting

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
The Denial of Saint Peter
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Christie's London, King Street:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

By the early 1630s, as Benedict Nicolson notes, Adam de Coster had established himself in Antwerp as a renowned painter of nocturnal scenes, a pictor noctium (B. Nicolson, ‘Notes on Adam de Coster’, Burlington Magazine, CIII, May 1961, p. 186).  He is labelled as such in a portrait etching by Sir Anthony van Dyck from 1626, later published in The Iconography.

Though no signed or dated pictures have survived, a body of work has been ascribed to de Coster on the basis on the engraving by Lucas Vosterman of a candlelit game of backgammon, a picture that shows his clear debt to Gerrit van Honthorst.  De Coster frequently used the trope of the half-masked flame in his compositions, a variation on the single candlelight that was pioneered by Honthorst and found such success amongst northern followers of Caravaggio. 

Another staging by de Coster of the same subject, in the Koelliker Collection, featuring the same device of the hand masking the flame, was exhibited in the show Caravaggio & His World (Art Gallery of New South Wales and National Gallery Victoria, 2003-4).  Where the latter showed Saint Peter stage left, as the soldiers eavesdrop on his conversation with a maid, as he denies knowing Christ for the first time, the other shows him in full view, making his third and final, dramatic denial.

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