Dulwich Picture Gallery II

RKD STUDIES

Jan Frans van SON

Antwerp, 16 August 1658–London, buried 28 January 1701, St James’s Piccadilly1
Flemish/British painter


Jan Frans van Son’s [1] father was the Antwerp painter Joris van Son (1623–67) or Van Zoon, who died before he could teach his son. Jan Frans was allegedly trained by the Antwerp flower painter Jan Pauwel Gillemans I (1618–75), but he is not mentioned in the Antwerp guild records. He may have left for England before he was twenty years old. According to archival sources, he produced many paintings in England, including many commissions from the nobility, such as Charles Robartes, Earl of Radnor, and also from Robert Streater (1621–79), the King’s Serjeant-Painter. He specialized in flower and fruit still lifes, some of which were of considerable size.

LITERATURE
Talley 1983, pp. 178–80 (1658–1718); Greindl 1983, pp. 134, 331, 383; Waterhouse 1988; De Maere & Wabbes 1994, i, p. 370, iii, figs 1102–3; Van der Willigen & Meijer 2003, p. 186 (Jan Frans van Son), p. 227 (Pseudo-Simons); Fuchs 2014; not in Saur; Ecartico, no. 6955: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/6955 (May 3, 2017); RKDartists&, no. 73907: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/73907 (May 4, 2017).

1
Alexander Bannerman
Portrait of Jan Frans van Son (1658-1701), c. 1762
paper, copper engraving 202 x 154 mm
London, National Portrait Gallery, inv./cat.nr. NPG D30428


Attributed to Jan Frans van Son
DPG350 – Still Life with Fruit and a Squirrel

c. 1678–86; canvas, 51.7 x 108.6 cm


PROVENANCE
Possibly part of William Cartwright’s interior decoration?; Cartwright Bequest, 1686 (no. 85, £3, ‘A Long pictur of grapps peaches, & other frut with a Squerell in it, in a gilt frame’).

REFERENCES
Sparkes & Carver 1890, p. 47, no. 127; Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 97, no. 350; Cook 1914, p. 209 (artist unknown); Cook 1926, p. 195; Cat. 1953, p. 47; Murray 1980a, p. 301 (unknown; ?Dutch); Beresford 1998, p. 114 (follower of Gillemans); Van der Willigen & Meijer 2003, p. 227 (Pseudo-Simons); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, pp. 231–2 (attributed to Jan Frans van Son); RKD, no. 281847: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/281847 (May 4, 2017).

EXHIBITION
London 1987–8, pp. 23, 78, 80, no. 78 (N. Kalinsky; Flemish School; follower of Gillemans?).

TECHNICAL NOTES
Medium–fine plain-weave linen canvas. Glue-lined onto linen. The light ground shows through the thinly painted (and abraded) dark passages. The background is particularly worn. The yellow and red glazes on the fruit may have faded or been damaged by overcleaning in the past. There are several signs of damage, particularly along the bottom edge, left side, and top corners. This painting has been attacked by mould in the past, affecting small spots of paint. Previous recorded treatment: mid-19th century, relined and new stretcher, Morrell; 1960, retouchings adjusted, National Maritime Museum; 1981, cleaned and revarnished, National Maritime Museum, C. Hampton.

DPG350
attributed to Jan Frans van Son
Still life with fruit and a squirrel, c. 1678-1686
canvas, oil paint 51,7 x 108,6 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. 350


DPG433 – Still Life with Fruit and a Bird

c. 1678–86; canvas, 51.4 x 108.6 cm


PROVENANCE
Possibly part of William Cartwright’s interior decoration?; Cartwright Bequest, 1686 (no. 86, £3, ‘a Long pictur of frut, & a bird in it, in a gilt frame’).

REFERENCES
Sparkes & Carver 1890, p. 47, no. 126; Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 121, no. 433; Cook 1914, p. 243 (artist unknown); Cook 1926, p. 226; Murray 1980a, p. 302 (unknown); Beresford 1998, p. 114 (follower of Gillemans); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, pp. 231–2 (attributed to Jan Frans van Son); RKD, no. 281846: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/281846 (May 3, 2017).

EXHIBITIONS
Hull 1981, p. 13, no. 6 (C. Brown); London 1987–8, pp. 23, 78, 80, no. 77 (N. Kalinsky; Flemish School; follower of Gillemans?); London 1999b (no cat. no.).

TECHNICAL NOTES
Fine plain-weave linen canvas. Ground is a light grey-brown. Glue-lined onto linen; the tacking margins have been cut. There is a repaired hole in the left background, two more at the bottom edge, and one in the vine-stem centre. It has been suggested that the glazes in the fruit may have faded, hindering the illusion of three-dimensionality. There is a fine craquelure all over and some small flake losses. Some abrasion has occurred to the edges of the painting. Previous recorded treatment: mid-19th century, relined and new stretcher, Morrell.

DPG433
attributed to Jan Frans van Son
Still life with fruit and a bird, c. 1678-1686
canvas, oil paint 51,4 x 108,6 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. 433


DPG406 – Still Life with Fruit, Flowers and Crayfish

c. 1678–86; canvas, 64.7 x 108.6 cm


PROVENANCE
Possibly part of William Cartwright’s interior decoration?; Cartwright Bequest, 1686 (no. 87, £3, ‘A Long pictur with flouers, a Lobster an oring a glass of rinish wine a Lemon Cut, a Chinia dish with grapes & Appells in it, a chinia bason full of straberys, in a gilt frame’).

REFERENCES
Sparkes & Carver 1890, p. 47, no. 128; Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 115, no. 406; Cook 1914, p. 234 (artist unknown); Cook 1926, p. 218; Cat. 1953, p. 47; Murray 1980a, p. 302 (Dutch School); Beresford 1998, p. 114 (follower of Gillemans); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, pp. 231–2 (attributed to Jan Frans van Son); RKD, no. 281848: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/281848 (May 4, 2017).

EXHIBITION
London 1987–8, pp. 23, 81, no. 79 (N. Kalinsky; Flemish School; provincial follower of Gillemans? Late 1650s–60s).

TECHNICAL NOTES
Fine plain-weave linen canvas. Buff-coloured ground with umber priming above. Glue-lined onto linen canvas. The paint layer is slightly abraded, but is generally in quite good condition. There is a horizontal scuff at the right side, next to the bowl of strawberries, which has a whitish appearance. Some of the retouchings have a matt appearance. It has been proposed that the ‘hectic’ look of the red drapery is due to the fading of glazes. Previous recorded treatment: mid-19th century, relined and new stretcher (stamp on stretcher), Morrell; 1988, surface cleaned and varnished, Area Museum Service, South East England.

DPG406
attributed to Jan Frans van Son
Still life with fruit, flowers and crayfish, c. 1678-1686
canvas, oil paint 64,7 x 108,6 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. 406


RELATED WORKS
1a, 1b) Jan Frans van Son, Flowers and Fruit on a Stone Table, and Fruit and a Vase with Flowers on a Stone Table, both signed JF VAN SON, canvas, 56.3 x 49.4 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Christie’s, 11 Dec. 2002, lot 41) [2-3].1
2a, 2b) Attributed to Jan Frans van Son (‘Pseudo-Simons’), Two Overdoors with Flowers, Fruit and Seafood, canvas, 45.7 x 118.7 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Longleat sale, Christie’s, 14 June 2002, pp. 196–7, lot 625).2
3) Attributed to Jan Frans van Son (Follower of Jan Pauwel Gillemans I), Still Life with Flowers, Fruit, Oysters and a Squirrel on a Table, canvas, 84 x 120 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Sotheby’s, Amsterdam, 6 May 1997, lot 13) [4].3
4) Flanders 1650–1700, Still Life with Fruit, Oysters, a Squirrel and a Parrot on a Stone Table Top, remainders of a signature S…, canvas, 92.5 x 122 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Sotheby’s, 6 July 2004, lot 553) [5].4
5) Attributed to the manner of Jan Pauwel Gillemans I, Still Life with Fruit, Squirrel and Chinese Bowl, canvas, 42.3 x 62.5 cm. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, FA000225.5
6) Attributed to Pseudo-Simons, Still Life of Fruit, a Crab and an Oyster, canvas, 44.2 x 58.4 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Bonhams, 21 April 2004, lot 74) [6].7
7a) Joris van Son, overdoor, dimensions unknown, Dyrham Park [7].6
7b) Joris van Son, Fruit and Corn hanging by a Ribbon, signed and dated 1654, canvas, 54.6 x 41.9 cm. Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset, NT1257107 [8].7

The three still lifes are by the same hand and come from the same collection (Cartwright). There are differences in their dimensions (DPG406 is some 5 cm deeper than DPG350 and DPG433, but they all have the same width) and composition (still lifes on table tops in DPG350 and DPG406, hanging festoon in DPG433), and they may have formed part of a larger set of interior decoration, possibly made for Cartwright’s home: with their shallow, wide formats DPG350 and DPG433 were probably intended for display as overdoors and DPG406 as an overmantel. DPG350 shows a range of fruits and vegetables (including figs, grapes, berries, plums, peaches and asparagus) on a table or ledge; at the right a red squirrel gnaws on a cobnut, while above it a small bird, a finch, swoops down on the display. The squirrel reappears in other paintings that are, according to us, by the same hand (Related works, nos 3 and 4) [4-5], of which two overdoors, formerly at Longleat (Related works, nos 2a, 2b), were probably painted for Thomas Thynne, 1st Viscount Weymouth, who died in 1714. In DPG406 precious Chinese export ware is displayed: a very large wan-li plate, a wan-li bowl, and at the far left a distinctive vessel known as a kendi. The tablecloth has stiff folds seen in other paintings (Related works, no. 6) [6]. The peaches and cherries in the Cartwright pictures are very similar to the ones in Related works, nos 1a, 1b [2-3].

DPG350

DPG433

DPG406


2
Jan Frans van Son
Flowers and Fruit on a Stone Table
canvas, oil paint 56,3 x 49,4 cm
lower right : JF VAN SON
Christie's (London (England)) 2002-12-11, nr. 41

3
Jan Frans van Son
Fruit and a vase with flowers on a stone table
canvas, oil paint 56,3 x 49,4 cm
lower right : JF VAN SON
Christie's (London (England)) 2002-12-11, nr. 41


4
Anonymous, Flemish
Still Life with Flowers, Fruit, Oysters and a Squirrel on a Table
canvas, oil paint 84 x 120 cm
Sotheby's (Amsterdam) 1997-05-06, nr. 13

5
Anonymous, Flemish
Still life with fruit, oysters, a squirrel and a parrot on a stone table top
canvas, oil paint 92,5 x 122 cm
lower left: S....
Sotheby's (London (England)) 2004-07-06, nr. 553


The three pictures were long unattributed, but in 1987 Ingvar Bergström attributed them to the Flemish painter Jan Pauwel Gillemans I (who was the teacher of Jan Frans van Son).8 In 1996 Fred Meijer of the RKD suggested that they were by a follower of Gillemans; more recently, he supported Paul Matthews’ suggestion of their attribution to the Pseudo-Simons (active c. 1650–80).9 This anonymous painter (the ‘real’ Simons being Michiel Simons II (?–1673), who worked in Utrecht 1638–73, has recently been characterized as a follower of Gillemans, and about a hundred paintings have been identified by Meijer. Many have appeared on the market attributed to Michiel Simons, but they are stylistically closer to Gillemans, Van Son’s teacher.

Alistair Laing noted in the inventory of Ralph Bankes’s collection at Grey’s Inn ‘A fruit Peece of Van Son’, and he drew attention to an overdoor at Kingston Lacy with fruit tied by a ribbon, which he thought looked ‘very close in both content and handling to your numbers 350 and 433’ (Related works, no. 7) [7-8].10 Because of Laing’s suggestion and also because they resemble the work of Joris van Son, the three Dulwich pictures are here attributed to Jan Frans van Son. He must have painted a lot of pictures and interior decorations in England, which have disappeared or gone unnoticed. It is also more likely that Cartwright had his house decorated with pictures made by an artist working in England than in Flanders, if they were indeed meant as decoration of Cartwright’s interior and not as part of his art collection.

6
Pseudo-Simons
Still life of fruit, a crab and an oyster
canvas, oil paint 44,2 x 58,4 cm
lower left : J.D. heem
Bonhams (London (England)) 2004-04-21, nr. 74


7
Joris van Son
Flowers and fruits bound together by ribbons, c. 1654-1659
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Dyrham, Dyrham Park

8
Joris van Son
Fruit and corn hanging by a ribbon, dated 1654
canvas, oil paint 54,6 x 41,9 cm
Wimborne, Kingston Lacy, inv./cat.nr. NT1257107


Notes

1 If he is indeed Francis Vansson, Fuchs 2014, pp. 8, 12 (note 42). His burial is recorded on 17 Jan. 1700/1701, Old style, which is 28 Jan. 1701.

2 RKD, no. 104209: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/104209 and 104210: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/104210 (both May 4, 2017).

3 Longleat 2002. See also pp. 194–5 (lot 624, by the Pseudo-Roestraten), where the positions of lots 624 and 625 at Longleat are discussed.

4 RKD, no. 32436: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/32436 (May 4, 2017).

5 RKD, no. 121323: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/121323 (May 4, 2017).

6 https://www.vads.ac.uk/digital/collection/NIRP/id/29679/rec/8 (T. Williams; 23 Jan. 2021).

7 RKD, no. 62661: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/62661 (March 4, 2017).

8 RKD, no. 299310: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/299312 (Jan. 30, 2021). Mentioned in a letter by Alistair Laing to Nicola Kalinsky, 30 July 1987: ‘I enclose a photograph of the painting by Joris van Son of fruit tied by a ribbon at Kingston Lacey [sic] [...]. It appears to be a picture that was mentioned in the inventory of Ralph Bankes’s pictures in Lincoln’s Inn in 1659 and is supposed to be signed and dated 1654, although I have not been able to find this. It is otherwise rather unlike the few paintings by Joris van Son that I happen to know, all of which are rather sumptuous and include lobsters! It does, however, look very close in both content and handling to your numbers 350 and 433.’ And in a following letter of 14 Aug. 1987: ‘Ralph Bankes’s inventory is not published; it consists of two slightly differing two-page lists of his collection when he was still at Grey’s Inn, one of them dated the 23rd December 1659. The Joris van Son is simply listed in one of them as, ‘A fruit Peece of Van Son’, bought for £3.10s. Both letters in the DPG350, DPG433 and DPG406 files. Laing was apparently somewhat confused, since he sent a photograph (made by the Courtauld Institute of Art) on the verso of which is written in pencil: ‘Dyrham overdoor’. The year 1654 that is mentioned in Laing’s first letter can be found on another picture by Joris van Son that is indeed at Kingston Lacy: see Related works, no. 7b.

9 RKD, no. 298587: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/298587 (Oct. 3, 2020); see also http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1257107 (Oct. 3, 2020) and also the preceding note.

10 Letter from Ingvar Bergström to Nicola Kalinsky, 10 Aug. 1987 (DPG350, DPG433 and DPG406 files).

11 Letter from Fred Meijer to Richard Beresford, 28 Aug. 1996 (DPG350, DPG433 and DPG406 files); email from Fred Meijer to Paul Matthews, Jan. 2006 (not in file).

12 Letters from Alistair Laing to Nicola Kalinsky, 30 July 1987 and 14 Aug. 1987 (DPG350, DPG433 and DPG406 files). The DPG350 file includes the photograph he sent, see note 8 above.

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