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Still Life with Lobster

Artist Pieter de Ring (Dutch, ca. 1615–1660)
Title Still Life with Lobster
Date Ca. 1650
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions Framed: 43 3/4 × 54 × 4 1/8 in. (111.1 × 137.2 × 10.5 cm)
Stretcher: 35 1/4 x 46 in. (89.5 x 116.8 cm)
Credit Line Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 73.22

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About this Work

An abundance of fruit, seafood, bread, and wine crowd a table in this still life painting. The seafood appears luxurious to our eyes, but it was cheap and common fare in Pieter de Ring’s time. However, the grapes, melons, and oranges; the Chinese porcelain dish; and the African Grey parrot at the left were expensive items obtained through the foreign trade that made Holland wealthy in the seventeenth century. Dutch still life paintings often convey moralizing messages. Here, the fresh fruit and seafood—foods that must be consumed quickly before they spoil—refer to the passage of time, a subtle commentary on human mortality.

1973, Indiana University Art Museum purchase from H. Shickman Gallery, New York

? –1973, H. Shickman Gallery, New York [1]

1939–ca. 1953 (or later), Trustees of the Cook Collection (as of 1941: c/o S. C. Kaines Smith, Esq. M.B.E, Stareton House), Kenilworth, Warwick [2]

1901–1939, Collection of Sir Herbert Cook (1868–1939), 3rd Baronet, Doughty House, Richmond, England (by descent) [3]

by 1901, Collection of Sir Francis Cook (1817–1901), 1st Baronet, Doughty House, Richmond, England [4]

Possibly: February 9–February 16, 1822, Sale, “Collection of Beautiful Cabinet and Gallery Pictures...,” Harry Phillips Auction House, London (no. 9, as “Still Life, Lobster, Lemon, &c,” attributed to Jan Davidsz de Heem) (?) [5]

Possibly: ca. 1822, with Samuel Woodburn (dealer, 1780–1853), London. Consigned with Harry Phillips Auction House, London, England [6]

Possibly: March 19–March 21, 1751, Sale, “Pictures of Dr. Bragge, Collected by Himself Abroad,” Prestage Auction House, London, England, on behalf of Dr. Robert Bragge, London (no. 9, as “A Lemon, Lobster &c.”, attributed to Jan Davidsz de Heem) (?) [7]


[1] Per Shickman invoice, dated April 9, 1973, from museum registration files.

[2] As per label on the verso.

[3] Per Danziger, p. 453–54. With the outbreak of World War II the National Gallery’s director, Kenneth Clark, arranged for several of the most important Cook paintings to be sent for safekeeping to a Welsh mine, along with works from the museum. Most of the remaining works, including the Pieter de Ring, were sent to the Cooks' country home, Cothay Manor, between 1941 and 1943. The removal of the paintings from Doughty House was fortunate, as the house suffered severe damage from bombs in the summer of 1944, with the picture galleries taking a direct hit. The de Ring was also among works from the Cook collection that were subsequently sent on a postwar tour of English museums and galleries (correspondence with John Somerville, Doughty House archivist, dated August 16, 2006; in curatorial files).

[4] Cook purchased the painting under its earlier attribution to still life painter Jan Davidsz de Heem (as indicated in the 1932 Abridged Catalogue of the Pictures at Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey, in the collection of Sir Herbert Cook, p. 86).

[5] The Getty Provenance Index indicates the painting did not sell but was bought in by the auction house. Whether this is the same painting now attributed to de Ring remains unverified.

[6] Per Getty Provenance Index and email from Julia Armstrong-Totten of the Getty Research Library, 30 August 2006.

[7] The Getty Provenance Index indicates that the painting was sold to an unknown buyer. Whether this is the same painting now attributed to de Ring remains unverified.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

July 1, 1988–February 4, 1989, "A Prosperous Past: The Sumptuous Still Life in the Netherlands," Het Prinsenhof, Stedelijk Museum, Delft, Netherlands, July 1–September 4, 1988; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, October 1–November 27, 1988; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX, December 10, 1988–February 12, 1989 (cat. no. 56)

Winter 1952–1953, "Dutch Pictures 1450–1750," Royal Academy of Arts, London, England (cat. no. 466, as "Still Life") [1]


[1] Per label on the frame's verso. In an email from 16 August 2006, archivist John Somerville of Doughty House notes that the estate was bombed in 1944 during World War II; the damage rendered Dougty House an unsuitable home for the collection for some time, hence the decision to send the collection on an extended tour of English museums and galleries, including the Royal Academy. The trajectory of the de Ring painting's journey after the Academy's winter exhibition is unknown at this time.

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"Still Life with Lobster | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.