Placing these exotic objects against dark, contrasting backgrounds allowed Kalf to illuminate their forms with accents of light.
Because this particular carpet is only partially visible, and because it is possible that the artist has taken some license in its design, its country of origin is difficult to determine. Chester Ellis of Kingston, New York, has indicated that he believes it is an Indian carpet (conversation with Mr. For a fuller discussion of carpets in Dutch art, see Onno Ydema, “Carpets in 17th With deft touches of his paintbrush Kalf invokes the soft texture of wool, the vitreous gleam of Chinese porcelain, the dense rind of lemon, and the transparent sheen of an elegantly wrought Venetian-style goblet.
Viewed individually the objects have no logical relationship to one another, yet orchestrated as they are through Kalf’s unerring sense of composition, these and the other items he has depicted come together as a harmonious whole.
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With its off-center pyramidal composition, this Still Life is a quintessential example of a compositional format that Kalf used in the late 1650s and early 1660s.
The artist’s favorite Chinese porcelain fruit bowl, dating from the Wan-Li dynasty, is tipped at an angle to reveal the blue-on-white decorations that play off so well against the oranges, yellows, and reds of the fruit.
Lucius Grisebach, Willem Kalf, 1619–1693 (Berlin, 1974), 114–115, 258, no.
102, uses this painting as the characteristic example of this type of composition.
As is evident from examining the full extent of his oeuvre, Kalf’s style developed in quite distinct phases that parallel, to a certain extent, his periods of residence in Rotterdam, Paris, and Amsterdam.
Within each phase a precise chronology is difficult to determine as he dated only a few of his paintings.
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