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Cornelis de Heem

Cornelis de Heem

*  1631 Leiden
† 1695 Antwerpen

Cornelis de Heem, son of the famous still life painter Jan Davidsz. de Heem, was born at Leiden in 1631. It seems to be very likely that his father took care of his education, and that Cornelis de Heem was active in his father´s studio in Antwerp around the middle of the century after he had completed his apprenticeship. Since he was able to fully unfold his artistic talents in his father´s studio, Cornelis de Heem made his greatest masterpieces during those young years. They were, of course, still lives (dated works as of 1654) and were of a remarkable quality, not at all inferior to his father´s works.
In 1660 the Antwerp painters´ gild of St. Luke accepted Cornelis de Heem as independent painter. However, he did not stay in Antwerp for a long time: There is proof for Cornelis de Heem ´s activities with his father, who meanwhile had returned to Utrecht, for the second half of 1667, the painter´s track is lost up until 1676 when he was mentioned as husband of some Maria van Beusecom in IJsselstein near Utrecht. From there he relocated to The Hague, where he stayed until at least 1684.
As a self-employed painter, Cornelis de Heem was much more subject to market conditions than it was the case in his father´s studio. Cornelis de Heem had to increase production: His still lives, mostly executed on canvas, were made in smaller format and seem a bit more coarse in their execution. Cornelis de Heem was more dedicated to still lives of fruits, sometimes increased by flowers, food items (lobster, oysters, small loafs of bread) and table devices. His painted works, among which there also were garlands, festoons and bouquets, were all made in strong colors, with lighter colors dominating the early period of creation and darker tones at a later point. With realistic details, Cornelis de Heem attains a surprisingly easy and swift stroke of the brush, a feature that became more manifest as of the 1670s.
In 1691/92 Cornelis de Heem returned from IJsselstein to Antwerp, where he died in 1695.