The vividly orange lobster seems to live on amid the grapes, lemons and sumptuous tableware, so meticulously is it painted; and yet it is lifeless, as are all the other objects in this still life by Cornelis de Heem. The son of the even more celebrated artist Jan Davidsz de Heem, Cornelis was a master of vivid depiction so convincing that one is almost tempted to reach into the canvas. It was painted on an expensive support – a copper plate – which further enhances the vibrancy and freshness of the colours, especially the prominent base tones of red, blue and yellow. Although the exquisite comestibles and luxurious materials – taffeta, silver cutlery, mother of pearl and ebony in the knife handle – are the accoutrements of an opulent still life, the table is not overburdened. Rather, each item has its chosen place and magnified presence in the image.
This masterpiece of Dutch painting was gifted to the Kunsthaus Zürich by David and Betty Koetser as part of a 1986 donation of 67 Old Master paintings of the finest quality. Thanks to this and other gifts and purchases, the Old Master section of the collection today includes a representative group of works from the 15th to the 18th century.


  • Title: Still Life with Lobster
  • Creator: Cornelis de Heem
  • Creator Lifespan: 1631 – 1695
  • Creator Death Place: Antwerp
  • Creator Birth Place: Leyden
  • Date Created: c. 1655/1656
  • Physical Dimensions: 63 x 49,5 cm
  • Type: painting
  • External Link: Kunsthaus Zürich, Online Collection
  • Medium: Oil on copper
  • Art Movement: Baroque
  • Inventory number: KS 14
  • Credit line: Kunsthaus Zürich, The Betty and David Koetser Foundation, 1978

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