About this artwork

This composition shows a cornucopia of grapes, maize, and flowers surrounding a stone niche enclosing a monstrance. Catholicism was the predominant faith in the Southern Netherlands during Van Kessel’s life, and this painting is related to a central facet of the faith, the Eucharist. A monstrance is an ornate container that is sometimes used to display the Eucharist (symbolic bread and wine) in Catholic worship. The ears of wheat and the inscription ECCE PANE AENG on the niche (‘Behold the Bread of Angels’) refer to the bread that is used to represent Christ’s body during Mass. The grapes around the niche allude to the Communion wine that stands for Christ’s blood. Van Kessel also included some small insects, including butterflies, which symbolise the resurrected human soul.

  • title:
    Still Life of Flowers and Grapes encircling a Monstrance in a Niche
  • accession number:
    NG 2740
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Oil on copper
  • date created:
    About 1670
  • measurements:
    70.00 x 105.50 cm (framed: 91.80 x 127.80 x 6.00 cm)
  • credit line:
    Purchased 2002
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve

Jan van Kessel

Jan van Kessel