CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Adriaen Coorte, meester van de monumentale eenvoud

Adriaen Coorte, master of sublime simplicity Exhibition: 8 March - 1 June 2003


Liesbeth Helmus.

Museum information

12 paintings by this archetypal minor master from Middelburg, rediscovered in 1977 by Laurens J. Bol.

Little is known about Coorte (ca. 1665-after 1707). Most of his approximately 100 paintings remained in Zeeland until long after his death. The taste for his kind of art has increased dramatically in the last decades.

Museum press release

From 8 March to 1 June 2003 the Centraal Museum presents Adriaen Coorte: Master of Sublime Simplicity, an exhibition of 12 small, delicately crafted still lives. The exceptional quality of the works on show reveal why Coorte’s minuscule paintings are among the most admired and desired in the world.

Adriaen Coorte

Although he produced some one hundred paintings, little is known about Coorte’s life. He was born around 1665 and died some time after 1707, the year of his last dated work. From his death until well into the nineteenth century most of Coorte’s paintings were found in Zeeland collections. It was not until 1900 that his fame spread to the rest of the country and his paintings were gradually distributed on a wider scale.

Elegant depictions of a pair of strawberries

Coorte’s early work is reminiscent of that of Melchior d’Hondecoeter. But his reputation is not based on these large animal pictures; his petite, elegant depictions of a pair of strawberries or a bunch of asparagus on a bare stone ledge are what made him famous. His bright reds, gentle, translucent greens and enamel white contrast brilliantly with the invariably dark, impenetrable background. His still lives of shells possess the same sublime simplicity as his depictions of fruit. Adriaen Coorte approached his subjects as curiosa and preciosa of nature, as priceless gems to be captured and preserved in a timeless image.