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Balthasar van der Ast

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Balthasar van der Ast was born in Middelburg, Zeeland in The Netherlands, sometime around 1593-94. His birth date was not recorded, but legal documents state that Balthasar reached the age of maturity (twenty-five) between June 30, 1618 and September 13, 1619. He was orphaned when his father, Hans, died in 1608. Balthasar may have lived with his older sister Maria and her husband, a still-life painter Ambrosius Bosschaert, whose precise technique and symmetrical compositions impacted van der Ast’s early work. The three moved to Utrecht before 1621 when Van der Ast joined the city’s Guild of Saint Luke. As a Master, van de Ast took on several apprentices, including Bosschaert’s three sons and Jan Davidsz de Heem. Van der Ast specialized in floral still-lifes, such as Basket of Flowers (1622), characterized by rich, vertically composed, symmetrical compositions. Van der Ast was active in Utrechts artistic life and became close friends with painter Roelandt Savery, who shared an interest in flowers and animals. Influenced by Sacery, Van der Ast began to paint more softly and animated his still-lifes with small animals and insects such as his Still Life with Basket of Fruit (1622) and Still Life of Flowers in a Glass Vase (1624). He later introduced shells which reflected the contemporary interest in collecting exotic objects. In 1632, Van der Ast moved to Delft and joined the Saint Luke’s Guild. In 1633, Van der Ast married Margrieta Jans van Buijeren, and together they had two daughters. During this period in Delft, Van der Ast painted several larger canvases with a looser brushstroke style. In composition and conception, these paintings, like Still Life with Fruits and Flowers, anticipate the work of such artists as Jan van Kessel and Adriaen Coorte. Balthasar van der Ast died in December of 1657 in Delft.

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