(b Burgsteinfurt, Westphalia, c.1597; bur. Haarlem, 1 Jan. 1661). Dutch still-life painter, born in Germany and active in Haarlem, where he had settled by 1617. He and Willem Claesz. Heda, who also worked in Haarlem, were the most important exponents of the ontbijt or breakfast piece. They painted with subdued, virtually monochromatic palettes, the subtle handling of light and texture being the prime means of expression. Claesz. generally chose objects of a more homely kind than Heda, although his later work became more colourful and decorative. The two men founded a distinguished tradition of still-life painting in Haarlem, but Claesz.'s son, Nicolaes Berchem, became famous as a landscape painter.
Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)