National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Banquet Piece with Mince Pie Willem Claesz Heda (artist)
Dutch, 1594 - 1680
Banquet Piece with Mince Pie, 1635
oil on canvas
overall: 106.7 x 111.1 cm (42 x 43 3/4 in.) framed: 143.8 x 147 x 10.5 cm (56 5/8 x 57 7/8 x 4 1/8 in.)
Patrons' Permanent Fund
1991.87.1
On View
From the Tour: Dutch Still Lifes and Landscapes of the 1600s
Object 4 of 8

Heda's largest known painting appears, at first sight, to extend the hospitality of a sumptuous feast. Yet platters and knives teeter precariously over the table's edge, while goblets and compotes already have toppled. Perishable or expended items symbolize life's transience: a snuffed–out candle, spilled olives, half–eaten minced pie, and a lemon, only half–peeled.

From the 1620s to the late 1640s, Dutch artists preferred monochromatic tones for their still lifes and landscapes. Heda was a master of such cool gray or warm tan color schemes. Here, the gold, silver, pewter, and Venetian glass play against a neutral setting and a white tablecloth. Somewhat later in the mid–1600s, brighter colors would characterize the classical period of Dutch painting.

A specialist in banquet still lifes, Heda also painted "breakfast pieces" and, as a writer in 1648 noted, "fruit, and all kinds of knick–knacks." Willem Claesz Heda taught several apprentices including his son, Gerrit Willemsz Heda (the sz at the end of many Dutch names is an abbreviation for szoon, meaning "son of"). Gerrit's Still Life with Ham, dated 1650, reveals a strong debt to his father's style and motifs.

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