Osias Beert, a Flemish early still life painter, was born in Antwerp in 1579. He joined the Antwerp St. Lukas Guild of St. Luke as a priviledged master in 1602. In 1606, he married one Margareta Yckens. Beert worked in Antwerp nearly all his life. As a still life painter, he specialized in depicting tables laden with light food, his still lifes were precursors of the ornamental still life that became very popular in Holland, later known by the term Breakfast.
Only 8 of his works have survived. Beert’s still lifes, as it is usual for all early still lifes are full of symbols, which are difficult to understand for modern viewers. Thus, his Still Life with Cherries and Strawberries in Porcelain Bowls, which contains fruit and insects is explained by a modern art historian in the following way: “Osias Beert shows the forces of good and evil fighting for man’s soul in the form of animals. The human soul is represented by strawberries and cherries, which were considered to be fruits of Paradise. The butterfly, as a symbol of salvation and resurrection, is in opposition to the dragonfly, which was seen as a subspecies of the common fly. …they considered flies to be creatures of the devil.”
Osias Beert died in Anwerp probably in 1624.
Still Life (Big Art) by Norbert Schneider. Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1999.
1608. 50 x 65.5 cm. Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, Germany.