ISAAC SOREAU

(1604 - Frankfurt - after 1638)

 

Still-Life of Fruit and Flowers

 

Oil on panel, 24 x 33 inches (61 x 85 cm)

 

PROVENANCE:

Private Collection, Great Britain; Peter Tillou, New York, 1995; Private Collection, Connecticut.

Daniel Soreau, the father of Isaac Soreau was of Flemish descent but had moved to Frankfurt to avoid religious persecution in the late 1580's.  In 1599 he was instrumental in the founding of a new town not far from Frankfurt called Hanau where Isaac was born in 1604.  He was probably trained by his father but must have had another teacher after his father's death in 1619.  His elder brother Jan (born 1591) was a painter as well.  According to public records Isaac was in Hanau until 1626 but whether he stayed there throughout his life is not known.  He painted still lifes with baskets and bowls of fruit and vases of flowers in the style of Jacob van Hulsdonck and Osias Beert.

This stylish composition of a wicker basket overflowing with plums, peaches, grapes vine leaves and small branches from the plum tree together with a roemer with carnations and leaves, is elegantly arranged to form perfect harmony.

The two main objects, the basket and the roemer stand amongst a juxtaposition of cherries, nuts, other fruits, a beetle and a butterfly scattered along the surface in the foreground.  The vine stems with their long tendrils and broad leaves and the clusters of plum tree leaves suitably freshened with small droplets of water compensate for the rigid formality of the e.

The tilted shelf perspective and the crowded foreground is very reminiscent of an early Flemish or German banquet piece.  This arrangement was also painted by Jacob Husdonck, since both artists borrowed from each other's composition.  Unlike Hulsdonck, Soreau's still-life pictures are more thinly painted and translucent.

Of the fruit, every texture and tonality seems to have been worked with refined technical expertise.  The virtuosity shown in the rendering of Soreau's style is significant in this painting.  While the detail is beautifully drawn one must also admire the way Soreau was able to interpret the sumptuous flavor of the fruit with the cool and subtle tones on the grapes and the steely blue shades of the plums.