Circle of SEBASTIAN STOSKOPFF (Alsatian, 1597-1657)
    Kitchen Still Life with Fish and Cat, circa 1650
    Oil on canvas
    32 x 40 inches (81.3 x 101.6 cm)

    L'Hôtel Drouot, Paris, circa 1980s;
    Private collection, California.

    The almanac depicted near the center of this handsome composition provides a terminus post quem for the painting. The title page of the almanac bears the name of François Le Beau (Lionnais et spéculateur des Ephémèrides Célestes), who authored a number of almanacs including Almanach journalier pour 1643 (Lyon, Nicolas Gay, 1643) and another in 1668. There are doubtless others traceable to the decade of the 1650s. The almanac pictured in this still life has a partially legible date which appears to read: mil six cent (?) cinquante.

    The still-life painter Sebastian Stoskopff, whose work inspired the present painting, was a native of Strasbourg. His still lifes forged an interesting blend of influences from the Hanau/Frankfurt schools (notably the work of Georg Flegel) and from Paris, where he had lived and worked from 1622 to 1639. Stoskopff's paintings are characterized by a strongly geometric ordering of space, in which objects are arranged with great clarity, often against rich, dark backgrounds. His works often feature one or more vanitas elements--a skull, a well-thumbed book, or a burning candle that will soon be snuffed out--each one of them reminders of the temporary nature of human existence. Stoskopff was fond of painting demanding textural effects, particularly folds and tears in paper as well as both typeset and manuscript pages. He also painted dated pages from almanacs--devices through which he dated his paintings. Like the present work, probably by a provincial Lyonnais artist who fell profoundly under Stoskopff's spell, Sebastian Stoskopff included a page from a 1630 almanac in one of his best-known paintings, a Vanity still life in the collection of the Kunstmuseum, Basel.

    Condition Report*:

    The work is thinly painted throughout.  Under UV light there is evidence of light strengthening along the contours of the original wood stretcher on all four sides and in the gills of the two fish.  Scattered small restorations in the upper center and upper right.  Hair-line restorations on age cracks in the eggs.  The best preserved passages are the latern on the left, the head of the cat, the candlestick on the right, the cheese grater, and the almanac cover.  The work has been relined and put on a modern stretcher.

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th-21st Thursday-Friday
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