Saturday, November 22, 2008
Pieter Gerritsz Van Roestraeten
Pieter Gerritsz Van Roestraeten. Chinese Tea Bowls, 17th century.
Roestraeten was one of the most successful Dutch painters working in England, moving to London in the 1660s and remaining there until his death. Though his painting remained characteristically Dutch, his success was perhaps largely dependent on his ability to portray glass in pipe and cup form, alike.
Van Roestraeten presents a lamentably English scene: afternoon tea. There is a dull edge to the daylight here, the cups and kettle appear to be slouching. There is a depression in the painting, as if Van Roestraeten himself were distracted. The tones suggest a wanton mind; while Pieter painted his likely-commissioned work he dreamed of the relief that comes with the common tea break. Though painting the London aristocracy's most common scene Van Roestraeten holds tightly to the precision of his Dutch predecessors. The edges of the kettle make a sharp appearance before ducking quickly into the shadows; the candy cane colors of the piece sweep into the black and frictionless tabletop; the milk-sweetened teas shimmer in their cups. While the painter tightens the strings of attention and wrings the rag of concentration he is unable to shake a hopeful thought for release. Release from commissions for a time to reflect, to savor and to neglect the tasks that have filled the day and those that will round it out. Despite Van Roestraeten's disinterest the representations are as sharp as this morning's razor.
Posted by Hermann Wundrum at 5:46 AM