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Un Univers intime. Paintings from the Frits Lugt Collection
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Jan van Kessel the Elder
(Antwerp 1626-1679 Antwerp)
Festoon, masks and rosettes made of shells
Copper, 40 x 56 cm; signed and dated 1656 Acquired in 1946; inv. 5824

Jan van Kessel the Elder was Jan Brueghel the Elder’s grandson (cf. no. 7). He was registered in the Antwerp guild in 1644/45 as a flower painter, but his work was not limited to this genre. He painted all kinds of still lifes (which were avidly collected) (cf. no. 23) and even landscapes. This painting on copper – a surface often used by Kessel – is exceptional in his work: it is the only known specimen of this type of decorative and anthropomorphic composition with shells. The work is in an excellent state of conservation, enabling us to appreciate fully the painter’s meticulous technique and gift for trompe l’oeil.