Elias van den Broek

Antwerp, 1649 – Amsterdam, 1708

A Still Life with Oysters, Butterflies, a Peach, a Chestnut, an Orange and a Pomegranate, blue morning-glory, a gilded Hanap and a Flut Glass

Signed 'Elias V. D.B…', bottom right
Oil on panel
H. 34.5 cm. W. 42 cm.


Private collection


We are grateful to Dr. Fred G. Meijer for confirming the authorship of our panel to Elias van der Broeck and for his assistance in cataloguing this piece. This fine Still Life is set relatively early in the career of Van der Broeck, who worked in the studio of Jan Davidsz's de Heem, and the present picture is significantly close to some of his master's late compositions. As such, the present picture is an early example of a Still Life by Van den Broeck, soon after he had left the studio of Jan Davidsz. de Heem, ca. 1669–70. The lavish composition and succulent fruit is reminiscent of both the handling of paint, colour and design of the late works by De Heem.

Having begun his career in 1665 as a goldsmith, Elias van den Broeck became a very accomplished flower and still-life painter as a pupil of Cornelis Kick. He is also believed to have worked with Jan Davisz. de Heem in Utrecht and Ernst Stuven, although it is from Otto Marseus van Schrieck that he draws most influence, particularly in his ‘forest floor’ still lives.


Van den Broeck joined the Antwerp Guild in 1673, having moved there with de Heem. In 1677 van den Broeck married Marie Leenaerts in Antwerp. He became a well regarded artist notable for his extraordinary attention to detail. This was to prove his undoing as jealous rivals spread rumours that he stuck actual butterfly wings to his paintings. A famous court case is mentioned in which he was made to paint a wing in front of an audience, so proving his innocence. However, his reputation had been irreparably damaged and he was forced to return to Amsterdam in 1685 to continue his career. From 1700 he lived and worked in

His technique is very delicate and highly finished, often animating his compositions with various creatures such as butterflies, beetles, lizards and mice. His careful rendering of leaves is most noticeable where the veins are drawn with the minutest of detail. An interesting technique he used was to mix sand into the paint to create an ‘earthy’ texture with which to render the lichens and mosses. Some of his pictures resemble the works of
Rachel Ruysch and, to a lesser extent, Simon Verelst but his flower paintings always have a unique personality of their own despite these influences, characterised by a voluptuous technique that gives his still lives a richness not found in other painters. He is thought to have been the teacher of Philip van Kouwenbergh.

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