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Netherlands • 1597−1661

Biography and information

Pieter Claesz, also called Pieter Claesz of Harlem (Pieter Claesz / Pieter Claesz van Haarlem; 1596 or 1597, Burham, Belgium - January 1, 1661, Harlem, the Netherlands) - one of the most important masters of the still life of the Golden Age of Holland, who achieved amazing simplicity and spectacular atmosphere in his works.

Features creativity Peter Klas. The artist devoted much of his career to still lifes with a limited set of objects that are made in muted colors. Nevertheless, he had the unique ability to bring diversity to his paintings with the help of subtle nuances in compositions, selection and arrangement of objects, transmission of light effects, reflections and textures.

One of the favorite scenes of Peter Claes was the "morning meal" - an image of a modest breakfast set on the corner of the table. With the help of the simplest means, he turned an everyday, one-type, familiar, “tin plate with herring” into a significant scene, radiating beauty. Him"Still life with a burning candle" (1627) and“Breakfast with ham” (1647) demonstrate subtle variations of related monochrome colors, which became more pronounced in the late works of the artist.

Klas also performed several paintings in the vanitas genre - allegorical still lifes, including symbols of death or inconstancy, which are reminiscent of the transience of life - for example"Still life with a skull and quill pen" (1628).


Biographical information about Peter Klas is extremely scarce and replete with "white spots". He was born in Berchem (now the commune in the south of the district of Antwerp) in 1596 or 1597 and, apparently, was admitted to the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke in 1620. But by next year, he must have lived in Harlem, where his son was born - the future landscape painterNicholas Peters Berchem (1621 - 1683). Although the date of his entry into the Harlem Guild of St. Luke is unknown, Peter Claes is listed in the organization’s registry as of 1634 as a master artist. After the death of his first wife, the painter married a second time. From this marriage he had two daughters.

The teacher Klasa is also unknown, but his earliest dated works resemble carefully executed still lifes of Antwerp artists.Clara Peters (ca. 1594 - 1657) andOsias Burt the Elder (ca. 1580 - 1624). Klas diversified his desktop compositions with food and drinks, smoking accessories and musical instruments. Scrupulously writing out the tangible details and lighting effects, he sought to strengthen the illusion of reality, placing the objects on the table so that they seemed to be distant in space.

Between 1630 and 1640, the artist’s palette became almost monochrome and more subdued, but by the beginning of the next decade dramatic colors and compositions returned to the paintings. It was probably influenced by the gorgeous still lifes.Jan Davids de Hema and Abraham van beeren. In the later pictures of Klas it is sometimes possible to find vines and leaves painted by Roelof Coots (1592 - 1655).

Klas's innovative solutions and his unique ability to combine the same set of objects in a variety of original and very interesting compositions influenced artists both in Harlem and beyond. When in 1628 a painter from HarlemWillem Klas Heda (1594 - 1680) began to create his still lifes, he turned to the works of Klas for themes, as well as compositional and stylistic decisions. Dutch Minister Samuel Ampzing noted the paintings of Klas and Kheda in his "Praise to the City of Harlem" in 1628. A poet, scientist and composer Constantine Huygens in 1647 included Klas in the list of artists sufficiently qualified to decorate the Hall of Fame of the House of Orange in Huys-ten-Bos - the residence of the Dutch royal family on the outskirts of The Hague. However, it is not documented anywhere that Klas participated in this.

The artist continued to work until the end of his life: there are paintings signed and dated by the 1660th - the year of his death. In addition to his son, Klas had other students -Floris van Dyck, Christian berenc,Floris van Schoten, Evert van Aalst and Jan Janson Trek. Now the artist's works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Prado Museum in Madrid and other international institutions.

Author: Vlad Maslov