Coorte worked in Middelburg, a wealthy maritime city in the southern part of the Netherlands that fostered a poetic, scientific, and spiritual examination of the natural world. Gooseberries — a modest, local pleasure — could be picked in the wild, although Dutch gardeners in the 1600s were the first to cultivate them to improve their taste. The strong illumination gives the plant a stark grandeur, despite the small scale, and the dark background emphasizes the fruit’s delicate translucency. The desiccated flower petals and waxy leaves contrast with the succulent gooseberries, with their skin on the verge of bursting.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art.