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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Still Life with a Tankard, a Plate of Oysters and Glasses on a Table

Photo: Scott Leen

Still Life with a Tankard, a Plate of Oysters and Glasses on a Table


Willem Claesz. Heda

Dutch, 1594 - 1680

Haarlem-born artist Willem Claesz. Heda specialized in elegantly austere still-life paintings of food and vessels casually strewn across linen-clad tables. His sophisticated compositions, though outwardly unassuming, transmit rich and fascinating histories. The commodities and delicacies that populate them helped drive the global economy during the 17th century, a powerful network of trade with Holland as its hub.

This painting is an exquisite example of Heda's consummate mastery of the still-life genre. Domestic beer and shellfish; wine, fruit, and nuts from southern Europe; and pepper from Southeast Asia populate an elegant service of crystal and glassware arranged in a shallow space parallel to the picture plane. The work’s monochrome palette reinforces the balanced rigor of the composition and envelops it in an atmosphere of reassuring harmony, even as the half-eaten oysters, partially consumed beverages, withered lemons, and toppled receptacles foretell disruption to this order.
Oil on wood panel
19 11/16 x 32 7/8 in. (50cm. x 83.5cm)
Bequest of Theiline Pigott Scheumann
Provenance: [Anonymous sale, Paris, France, Palais Galliera, Dec. 7, 1967, lot no. 136, reproduced (as dated 1656)]; {Jean Thèves, Saint-Nom-la-Bretêche, France}; [Anonymous sale, Hôtel George V, Paris, Ader Picard Tajan, Apr. 14, 1989, lot no. 219, reproduced]; purchased at auction by [Otto Naumann, Ltd., New York, and Derek Johns, Harari & Johns Ltd., London, 1989]; sold to Theiline (1931-2021) and Doug Scheumann (1936-2016), Seattle, Washington, 1989; Estate of Theiline Pigott Scheumann; bequeathed to Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2022
Photo: Scott Leen
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, SAM at 75: Building a Collection for Seattle, May 5, 2007 - Sept. 9, 2007.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, European Masters: The Treasures of Seattle, Feb. 14 - May 19, 2013.
Published ReferencesVroom, N.R.A. A Modest Message as Intimated by the Painters of the ‘Monochrom Banketje’. Schiedam 1980, vol. II, p. 70. Cat. no. 354, reproduced fig. 95 (as dated 1656).

Naumann, Otto. Inaugural Exhibition of Old Master Paintings: 12 January–1 March 1995. New York: Otto Naumann Ltd., 1995. Reproduced n.p. [in “Part II: Paintings Sold in the Past”].

Ishikawa, Chiyo, ed. A Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2007. Reproduced, p. 19.

Naumann, Otto. "Ty Scheumann, inveterate collector of Dutch paintings." Dutch Masterpieces from the Theiline Scheumann Collection, Sotheby's, 26 January 2023, pp. 8-11, reproduced pp. 11.

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