For four decades, he worked a single theme: the still life of foods and utensils for breakfast on a tablecloth covering almost the entire table. This choice was perhaps inspired by his early training as a painter of vanities. The fruit is ephemeral and the utensil is permanent.
In the 1630s, his composition is rigorous, in a great simplicity which certainly inspired the minimalism of Coorte half a century later. The foods are strictly included within the perimeter lines of the table top. Only the higher part of the utensils and the hanging lemon peel are beyond this zone.
On July 8 in London, Sotheby's sells an oil on panel 59 x 80 cm painted in 1633, lot 12 estimated £ 2M.
This artwork is a good example of Heda's improved realism through a subtle treatment of light. The contrasted areas in the background indicate where daylight comes from. The surrounding that escapes direct vision is however visible in the multiple reflections of a single window, in glasses, silverware and olives but not in pewter.
Subsequent compositions with a crumpled tablecloth and an increased quantity of objects are more complex. The artist desired to demonstrate that his control of geometry could be applied not only to order but also to disorder. An oil on panel 81 x 102 cm painted in 1644 was sold for £ 4.8 million including premium by Christie's on July 8, 2014 over a lower estimate of £ 1.5M.