Arthistorian Robbie Dell’Aira discovered her, The Fruitseller in Loevestein Castle. But what was she doing there, in the restaurant? The painting, then ascribed to ‘school/environment of Frans Snyders' and lent to the castle in the seventies, was a bit of a mystery. But Dell’Aira could place her in the vicinity of Vincenzo Campi’s atelier, and maybe even painted by the master himself.
Vincenzo Campi (Cremona, pre 1536-1591) and his brother Antonio are seen as the harbingers of the Italian still life paintings.
For the quick observer the market scenes of Campi resemble the paintings made in Antwerp by Joachim Beuckelaer and Frans Snyders. And Vincenzo Campi certainly visited the town, where many Italian tradehouses were to be found. He must have been inspired by the painters in Flandria,but gave the genre his own twist.
The painting at Loevestein can be compared to the other Fruitsellers of Campi, the one in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milano; and one in the Fugger-collection in Kirchheim, Bavaria, signed VINCENTUS CAMPUS CREMONENSIS F. 1580; and a third one that was presented in the New York gallery Conalghi in 1983.
The ladies in the centre of these paintings show a great resemblance. The theme must have been a beststeller. She is pealing a peach (?), and the painting is loaded with double entendres. In the Loevestein inventory the painting was dubbed Minestrae Voluptatis. And it has all the wealth in vegetables, fruit and flowers one would expect.
Remains the question: what was a Vincenzo Campi doing in the Netherlands? The painter was popular in 17th century Antwerp, and certainly a still life was part of the collection of trader Cornelis van der Geest, according to Dell’Aira. The priest Hendrik Hillewerven, also Antwerp, owned one in 1694 (een wyff met groen en fruyten – a woman with greens and fruit made by Vincent del Campo) , when an inventory was made of his possessions. A Campi with the same subject was sold from Belgium to the Netherlands approx. 80 years ago, but it’s not certain that the Loevestein Campi and the Hillewerven are one and the same painting.
When Dell’Aira published his discovery, the privately owned painting was about to be cleaned and exhibited at a more appropriate place. But, when I google her now, I see she’s up for auction.
Based on: Robbie dell’Aira, Een Vincenzo Campi boven de bitterballen. Over de Fruytverkoopster in de Taveerne van Slot Loevestein, zj/private communication.