Leiden 1647 - 1726 Amsterdam
Canvas, 57 x 46.5 cm
Painted circa 1680/1700
Signed : Naiveu (left on plinth)
Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder, The Hague
Naiveu has done his best to trick the observer, and the niche forms an essential element in this. Viewed at eye level the trompe-l’oeil effect is remarkable. The niche appears to be part of the wall on which the painting is hung, making the bunch of grapes look as though it is attached to the wall instead of being part of the picture. Attracted by the fruit, some insects have landed on the grapes, others on the marble. Have they been fooled by the artist, just as the birds were by Parrhasios? No, it is more subtle. They, too, are painted and in turn fool the human observer. In that sense Naiveu is at once Zeuxis and Parrhasios.
In painterly terms this picture is extremely accomplished. The heavy bunch of grapes and the venous leaves have been exquisitely rendered; while the handling of light and the curling leaves deftly create an illusion of three-dimensionality, emphasised by the fact that some of the leaves extend round the side of the niche. In addition to the trompe l’oeil effect, the picture is also interesting for its symbolism. Here the grapes may symbolise the life and death of Christ, while the pomegranate alludes to his resurrection.