Balthasar van der Ast
* 1593 Middelburg (Zeeland)
† 1657 Delft
Balthasar van der Ast, who has also been mentioned in art history under the erroneously ascribed name Bartholomeus van der Ast, counts among the grandmasters of Dutch baroque still life painting.
Balthasar van der Ast was born in Middelburg, either in 1593 or in 1594. Through his sister’s marriage with Ambrosius Bosschaert (1604), the family gets in touch with high-ranked artist circles.
When Bartholomeus van der Ast’s father eventually died in 1609, Ambrosius Bosschaert became his patron. The brother-in-law trained Balthasar van der Ast in still life painting. They seemed to be on good terms, as it is very likely that Balthasar van der Ast still lived in Bosschaert's house in Bergen-op-Zoom in 1615.
Between 1619 and 1632 Balthasar van der Ast was master of the Utrecht painters gild and also had a studio in Utrecht where he trained some renowned still life painters. It is generally assumed that Ambrosius Bosschaert the Younger, Abraham Bosschaert and Johannes Bosschaert served an apprenticeship there. Also Johannes Baers and Jan Davidsz. de Heem, who would later become a much-celebrated artist, presumably were students of Bartholomeus van der Ast.
In 1632 Balthasar van der Ast relocated to Delft where he was given civil liberty and was accepted into the Guild of Saint Luke. In Delft Balthasar van der Ast also met his wife Margrieta Jans van Bueren, they married in 1633.
Balthasar van der Ast was entirely specialized in still life painting, while his early period of creation was still geared at Bosschaert, the artist soon emancipated himself from his teacher. With oil on wood and copper, rarely on canvas, he created extremely exquisite flower and fruit pieces with a great love for the detail and lavishly made embellishments. Today some 200 paintings are ascribed to Balthasar van der Ast.
Balthasar van der Ast died in Delft in 1657.