Collier specialised in trompe l'oeil paintings. These 'deceptions' were still lifes, painted to impress the viewer with the artist's ability to create in paint the illusion of real, graspable objects. Letter racks were one of Collier's favourite subjects, and this piece shows one arranged with newspapers, notes, writing implements, seals and combs. He painted many variations of it with similar objects slightly differently arranged, but always with different dates and printed texts. Although we don’t know the exact year this piece was painted, a clue is contained in the folded London newspaper at the top of the rack which is dated 'Monday, May 15' - the only likely Monday to fall on this date was in 1699, which is now given as the approximate date of the piece.
Due to the nature of the original artwork, we are only able to offer custom prints in size options up to 80 x 60 cm.
A Trompe l'Oeil of Newspapers, Letters and Writing Implements on a Wooden Board
British Baroque: Power & Illusion
Original: Oil paint on canvas 58.8 x 46.2 cm © Tate, 2020
Edward Collier (1642 – 1708) was a Dutch Golden Age still-life painter, best known for his vanitas and trompe-l'œil paintings. Not much is known about Collier - his first name is variously spelled as ‘Edward, ‘Edwaert’, ‘Eduwaert, ‘Edwart’ or ‘Evert’, and his last name is sometimes spelled ‘Colyer’, ‘Kollier’ or ‘Collier’. Edward Collier seems to be the anglicised version of his name that he used for his works for the English market. Some of his paintings for the years 1695-8 have inscriptions describing him as a ‘Painter at London’, so it is presumed that he lived there during this time. His exact year of birth and death are not known.