Breda, active before 1663 – 1708 London
Edwaert Collier was born in Breda in the province of Brabant. He may well have received his training as a painter in Haarlem, where he was a guild member, according to the list of members drawn up by Vincent van der Vinne in the eighteenth century on the basis of seventeenth-century records now lost. Collier probably painted his earliest work in Haarlem where, already in 1669, three of his paintings were recorded in an inventory. In or before 1667, he must have moved to Leiden, where his residence is substantially documented from that year until 1693. Subsequently he left for London, where he appears to have remained until c.1702, judging from inscriptions (on letters) in his paintings. In 1702 he appears to have returned to Leiden, staying there until 1706, but a last known work dated 1707 is signed with the addition ‘fecit London’. His burial in St. James’s church, Piccadilly was recorded on 9th September 1708.
Edwaert Collier’s substantial oeuvre consists of three types of still lifes, in addition to a small number of genre paintings and portraits as well as the occasional history scene. Among his still lifes, his compositions with a vanitas connotation, of which the painting discussed here is an example, are the most frequent. Less frequently do his ‘traditional’ still lifes of smoking utensils or victuals occur. Third – from a chronological point of view, since Collier appears to have taken up the subject only after 1690 – are the trompe l’oeil paintings of letter racks and of prints displayed on wooden boards.