Pieter Claesz was a Dutch still life painter, born
in Westphalia in 1597. He moved to Haarlem, married there in 1617 and
remained in the town for the rest of his life. His most characteristic
genre is that of the breakfast piece, although he also painted banquet
pieces and a few vanitas still lifes. With his contemporary, the Haarlem
painter Willem Claesz. Heda, he was the most important exponent of the
monochrome' breakfast piece. Not strictly monochromatic, these works
are composed in subtle harmonies of grey, brown and green, often with
a sharp yellow accent provided by a peeled lemon. Claesz's breakfast
pieces are generally distinguishable from Heda's by the types of objects
he depicts. Claesz's monochrome period, in fact, spans only the period
of the 1630s; after 1640 his style became grander and more decorative.
Although he and Heda could be said to have invested still life with an
increased dignity and refinement, Claesz's own son, Nicolaes Berchem,
established himself instead as a landscape painter. Claesze died in 1660.