Edwaert Colyer, ‘Still Life’, ca. 1696, Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

James E. Roberts Fund

About Edwaert Colyer

Edwaert Colyer—who later anglicized his Dutch name to Edward Collier—is renowned for his trompe-l'oeil paintings and symbolically morbid still lifes, but little else is known of the life of the enigmatic painter. Colyer spent time between Leiden, Haarlem, Amsterdam, and London, and belonged to many chapters of the St. Luke’s city artist guilds, during which he actively created his trompe-l’oeil paintings. In these paintings, Colyer tricks the eye by creating the illusion of three-dimensional objects upon flat canvases, such as renderings of letter racks that mimicked tangible items—newspapers, notes, quills, and stamps. The contents of his compositions were encoded with commentary and collectively formed an obscure discourse on politics, art, media, revolution, and the ephemeral nature of power, at times even containing papers inscribed with the artist’s name.

Dutch, 1642-1708, Breda, Netherlands, based in Amsterdam and London