Balthasar van der Ast
Dutch Golden Age painter Balthasar van der Ast specialized in still lifes of flowers, fruits, and shells, simultaneously featuring insects and lizards. His is considered a pioneer of the niche genre of shell art. Born in Middelburg, Balthasar was orphaned at a young age and was taken in by his older sister, Maria, and her husband, a still-life painter. Balthasar’s uncle had a huge impact on his development as a painter. His early style manifested in a softer, more atmospheric manner, reminiscent of his uncle’s works. Balthasar later joined an artists’ guild which would allow him to fully evolve his style and technique into a completely unique style that would gain him a moderate amount of recognition.