Adriaen Coorte (Dutch, c. 1660-aft 1707)
oil on paper mounted on wood, Framed - h:45.50 w:38.50 d:4.50 cm (h:17 7/8 w:15 1/8 d:1 3/4 inches)
Unframed - h:29.70 w:22.80 cm (h:11 11/16 w:8 15/16 inches). Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1987.32
Coorte worked in Middelburg, a wealthy maritime city in the southern part of the Netherlands, which fostered a poetic, scientific, and spiritual examination of the natural world. Gooseberries - a modest, local pleasure - could be picked in the wild, although Dutch gardeners in the 1600s were the first to cultivate it to improve its taste. The strong illumination gives the plant a stark grandeur, despite the small scale, and the dark background emphasizes the fruit's delicate translucency. The dessicated flower petals and waxy leaves contrast with the succulent gooseberries, with their skin on the verge of bursting.