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Jacob van Walscapelle was born in Dordrecht as Jacobus Cruydenier. Early on, he adopted his maternal great-grandfatherâ€™s surname van Walscapelle. He was probably trained in Dordrecht and the mention of an architectural painting by van Walscapelle in a 1729 Dordrecht inventory suggests that he did not start out as a still-life painter. Today, however, we know no paintings by him of other subjects than still lifes. Around the mid-1660s, he is known to have been a pupil of the still-life painter Cornelis Kick (1631/34-1681) in Amsterdam and indeed his early flower paintings can barely be discerned from his teacherâ€™s. In 1673, Jacob van Walscapelle entered the service of the Amsterdam drapersâ€™ hall and Arnold Houbraken, writing in the early eighteenth century, claimed that he soon gave up painting in favour of his municipal job. The range of his known dated works (1667 up to 1685) seemed to confirm that statement, until a recently-surfaced, rather elaborate example of his work dated 1699 provided evidence to the contrary.
Jacob van Walscapelleâ€™s main still-life subjects were flowers and fruit. Until circa 1670, flower paintings in the style of Cornelis Kick dominate his oeuvre, but subsequently he seems to have been inspired to some degree by still lifes that were being produced in Utrecht by Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1682/84) and Abraham Mignon (1640-1679). His meticulously rendered, strongly lit and sharply defined fruit and flowers, in any case, are strongly reminiscent of the works that de Heem and particularly Mignon painted during the second half of the 1660s. Among van Walscapelleâ€™s most impressive pieces is a pair of garlands of fruit and flowers that he dated in 1672 and 1674, now in the collection of the Municipal Museum in Arnhem. Those paintings include many of the motifs that van Walscapelle repeated in his still lifes from the 1670s.
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