Dutch, 1594 - 1680
Documents indicate that Willem Claesz Heda was born in Haarlem on December 14, 1594. This evidence is supported by an inscription designating his age—“aetate 84”—found on a 1678 portrait of Heda by the Haarlem painter
Although he painted some portraits and figural compositions, Heda specialized in still-life painting. He was unquestionably one of the greatest masters of the genre. As is evident from his early vanitas still lifes, Heda was influenced by the Haarlem painter Floris van Schooten (active c. 1617–1655). His breakfast pieces—tabletop still lifes displaying an array of food, including cheese, fruit, and bread—likewise grew out of the Haarlem still-life tradition of the early seventeenth century, as was already noted during his lifetime by Haarlem historian Theodorus Schrevelius, who wrote that Heda painted “fruit and all kinds of knick-knacks” in the manner of Floris van Dyck (1575–1651). Heda’s paintings evolved from additive compositions to monumental, monochrome breakfast and banquet pieces, executed with delicate brushwork that could vividly convey a wide range of materials and textures.
Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.
April 24, 2014