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Johannes Bosschaert

Still life with an overturned basket of flowers

Panel: 51 x 74 cm
1627
Monogrammed and dated J.B. 1627

introduction

The free brushstroke and the use of enamelled colour are characteristic of the artist. Johannes Bosschaert charmed his contemporaries by presenting them with still lifes that concealed an undeniably innovative tone, even though they were classical in appearance. This opulent painting offers us a striking example.

The artist has arranged a basket of flowers on a wooden table facing the viewer. Bosschaert has overturned the basket and arranged the flowers as he pleases, charmingly combining the daintiness of the tulips, roses and irises. A china bowl filled with fruit counterbalances the composition with the help of delicious colours. The forms stand out from one another against a dark background which further enhances the intensity of the tones of the fruit and flowers. Johannes Bosschaert does not simply meticulously copy nature; he perfects his style by endeavouring to make the matter of the objects he paints perceptible to our senses: i.e., the coldness of the china or the velvety skin of the fruit. Insects scattered here and there endow the whole with a touch of poetry.

The sobriety of the arrangement together with its brilliant execution, make this still life a precious piece of work. This painting clearly illustrates why the works of this very young man inspired a whole generation of Dutch artists.

Provenance :
B. Meyer Collection, London;
Mrs. Vandervell’s collection, England;
Private collection.

Littérature :
Le Connoisseur, May 1956, illustrated p. 274;
L.J. Bol, The Bosschaert Dynasty, Painters of flowers and fruit, 1960, Leigh-on-Sea, cat.18 p.90, reproduced plate 51a;
C. Grimm, La Nature Morte, Les maîtres flamands, hollandais et allemands, 1992, Paris, p.112, pl.37.

Expositions :
Flower and Still-Life Paintings by Dutch and Flemish Masters of the 17th and 18th Centuries, Eugène Slatter Gallery, London, 1943, no. 12;
Dutch Pictures, 1450-1750, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1952-53, no. 89.