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 Adriaen Coorte  (1660 - aft. 1707)

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Lived/Active: Netherlands      Known for: painting

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from Auction House Records.
Asparagus and red currants on a stone ledge
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.

Adriaen Coorte was one of the most original and captivating still-life painters of the seventeenth century.  Likely from Middelburg in the province of Zeeland, Coorte was active from 1683 to 1707 leaving an oeuvre that today consists of approximately seventy pictures.  His early paintings closely adhere to the subject and style of Melchior d'Hondecoeter (1636-1695), suggesting that he trained with the artist in Amsterdam, or The Hague.  Determining his biography is a challenge, however, as only one written trace of Coorte survives from a yearbook of the St. Luke's Guild of Middelburg for 1695-1696.  This document, which misspells his name 'Coorde', is record of a censure he received for selling paintings without guild membership and has fueled speculation that he may have been a gentleman-painter removed from professional organisations (Small Wonders. Dutch Still Lifes by Adriaen Coorte, exhibition catalogue, Utrecht and Washington, 2003, p. 5).  Given the dearth of extant information on the artist, Coorte remained little-known until the twentieth century.  Records from the eighteenth century suggest that his paintings sold for extremely small amounts and there is no scholarship on him before the late 1800s.  His works were not in collections of major museums until Still-life with asparagus, of 1697, was given to the Rijksmuseum in 1903 (inv. no. SK-A-2099). 

Over time, however, Coorte joined the ranks of the most celebrated Dutch artists, thanks in large part to the efforts of Laurens J. Bol, former director of the Dordrechts Museum.  Bol brought attention to Coorte through the seminal exhibition Adriaen Coorte. Stillevenschilder of 1958.  Coorte's still-lives are highly distinctive.  In his simple compositions, natural objects such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, and shells most often sit on a stone ledge set against a dark background. This choice and arrangement harkens back to Haarlem still-live painters Pieter Claesz (circa 1597-1660) and Willem Heda (1594-1680).  Coorte may have encountered this Haarlem tradition while training in Amsterdam, or through artists who introduced it to Middelburg such as Karel Slabbaert (Ode to Coorte, exhibition catalogue, The Hague, 2008, p. 27).  Also in his hometown, he may have been looking to the finely wrought still-life tradition of Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573-1621).  Despite these influences, Coorte developed an idiom all of his own.  His selection of items -- seasonal, rather than exotic fruits and vegetables -- was somewhat unusual: Coorte was the only artist working around 1700 to depict asparagus as a primary subject (Buvelot, The still-lifes of Adriaen Coorte. Oeuvre catalogue, The Hague, 2008, p. 43).  Perhaps he consulted the painting manual of Wilhelmus Beurs, published in Amsterdam in 1692, which describes techniques for achieving fine details on asparagus, strawberries, gooseberries, peaches and apricots, all of which recur in his paintings (ibid, pp. 59-61).

Collecting groups of works by Coorte appears to have been a common practice: many owners of Coorte's still-lives in the Middelburg area had multiple works by the artist and in early sales his paintings were often sold in groups (Washington, exhibition catalogue, op. cit., p. 5).

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