Peeters first oil paintings are dated from 1607, they were small
paintings of food and beverages that were very
detailed. She made them when she was just
14 years old. The skill in which she made such paintings indicates that she
was trained by a master painter. Even thought there are no documents proving this,
it is believe that Peeters was a trained by Osias Beert, a still-life painter who
was also from Antwerp. By the age of 18, Peeters was producing
large numbers of diligently painted still-lifes, usually displaying a group of valuable
objects such as: highly decorated goblets, gold coins, and exotic flowers,
on a thin ledge, with the vantage point lower than the ledge, usually painted against
a dark background. By the end of the sixteenth century the religious scene
had disappeared and a table filled with food had emerged as an independent genre
known as "banquet" or "breakfast" pieces. Only a handful of
such paintings can be dated prior to 1608, the date of Peeters first painting. Although
Peeters painted other still lifes, she is recognized as one of the originators of
the "banquet" or "breakfast" pieces. Peeters was very talented, and became
successful from an early age.
Clara Peeters (Clara Pieters) was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1594. She
showed an amazing talent for painting at a very early age. It is believed
that her family encouraged her artistic talents, rather than trying to get her
to married, as many families did in her era. Peeters did marry when she was 45, to Hendrick
Joossen, it is rumored that she did this for economic reasons
While there is no record on who it was that trained her, it is said that she
studied with Osias Beert who was a noted still-life painter in
Antwerp. Their styles are very similar, as well
as the way they would group the objects in their paintings. However,
Peeters work is very different in many ways from the other Flemish artists of her
time. Peeters utilized a unique perspective on how she placed objects in her paintings.
This would enhance the quality of the arrangement. She grouped her objects very
close together, which would allow a certain amount of overlapping, with a simple
stone ledge, painted against a dark background, became typical of all known paintings
By the age of 17, Peeters was making paintings such as "A Goblet", "Pretzels",
"Still Life with Flowers", and "Dried Fruit". These were part of series of
four works that are masterpieces of early 17 century still-lifes. Peeters paintings
are intricate and eloquent, her painting style is indicative of the Baroque period.
Peeters paintings titled "Still Life with a Vase of Flowers", "Goblets", and "Shells",
which were considered to be some of Peeters best works, are different
from her earlier works. The images were more restrained, and seemed relatively plain.
It depicts three objects a goblet on the right, and a goblet in the center, and
a vase full of flowers on the left. What Anchors the objects together, is the stack
of coins, scattered shells, a tulip on a ledge, along with a small bowl holding
a gold chain, which is draped over the edge of the bowl. Peeters uses several different
items when she created her dynamic compositions.
Peeters was very skilled at painting on reflective surfaces; she seemed to have
been fond of painting miniature self-portraits on the surface of wine glasses and
on pewter. Peeters painted one goblet, which would reflect her image seven times.
Peeters choice of colorful fruits, exotic flowers, expensive food, and luxurious
items are symbolic of what would have been the tastes of her era. Many Dutch and
Flemish Baroque still-lifes, included objects that were specifically chosen to relay
the message showing the temporary nature of our existence. She would use items
that conveyed an overt message, that basically meant our time on earth eventually
comes to an end. This is very clear to the current day art lover, but, was not
clearly understood by the 17th century viewer. Some of the symbols she used were:
Peeters was said to have been very familiar with the competitive art market
of the Netherlands. She adapted her artwork
in response to the changing tastes of her patrons when. In the early 1620's,
Peeters started painting in a more monochromatic style, and painted objects that
were plainer, and used more simple arrangements in her works. Peeters would
sign and date her paintings; this made it possible to identify many of her works.
Peeters, like other women of her era, learned her skill from a master painter,
instead of her father. This shows that the attitude towards women artists
was changing in 17th century.
Though the exact date of her is a mystery, it is said that she died
in 1657, as there is no evidence of her works after that year.
You can view some of her paintings at: http://tinyurl.com/5kgah
More information on other lesser known female artists can be
Source: Women And The Art World. 2nd
ed. : Alpine Publishers, 1971.
Image Source: http://worldart.sjsu.edu