A recently acquired work is on display in the Rijksmuseum
s Gallery of Honour. The impressively large Still Life of Flowers with Crown Imperial Fritillary in a Stone Niche was painted by Jacob Vosmaer in 1613, and it is regarded as the artists best work. This acquisition means that for the first time the Rijksmuseum is able to display a painting of the very highest order from the vanguard of the genre that first brought fame to Dutch painting: the floral still life.
At the end of 2019, the Rijksmuseum had the opportunity to acquire the painting from a private owner. The purchase was facilitated through the support of the Mondriaan Fund, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences Nationaal Aankoopfonds, the Rembrandt Association (thanks in part to its Nationaal Fonds Kunstbezit, its Themafonds 17de-eeuwse schilderkunst, and a contribution from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds), the BankGiro Lottery, the Rijksmuseum International Circle and a private donor.
Visitors are now able to enjoy this Vosmaer floral still life in the Gallery of Honour, where it hangs alongside the still lifes of formal set tables previously acquired with the support of the Rembrandt Association.
Taco Dibbits, General Director of the Rijksmuseum: Thanks to the tremendous support of funds and private donors it has been possible to fulfil a long-held wish to display a floral still life of the very highest quality in the Gallery of Honour. The Netherlands is famed for its flowers, and I am delighted that we can share this new acquisition with everyone.
Floral still lifes
As a genre the still life with flowers is regarded as typical of the Low Countries. The Flemish painter Jan Brueghel the Elder was the first to specialise in the painting of bouquets, but it was the master painters in the neighbouring Northern Netherlands artists such as Ambrosius Bosschaert, Jacques de Gheyn and Roelant Savery who in the early 1600s further developed the genre and ushered in its heyday. Jacob Woutersz Vosmaer from Delft was one of the pioneers who devoted more attention to the flowers as volumes, and to the curvature of the bouquet. With its impressive size and rich detailing of a dynamic floral arrangement, Still Life of Flowers with Crown Imperial Fritillary in a Stone Niche forms a crucial link between the opulent Flemish still lifes of the period around 1600 and the more naturalistic Dutch floral still lifes painted in the first half of the 17th century.
The refined bouquet
The flowers in this painting of a sumptuous bouquet in a stone niche are arranged in an earthenware vase finely decorated with rosettes. Vosmaer painted a dazzling display of flowers incorporating various rare and costly varieties. The orange Crown Imperial came from Asia, and had only been introduced to Europe a few decades earlier by way of Turkey and Vienna. This majestic bloom is surrounded roses, irises, tulips and a Fritillaria meleagris and other members of the lily family. The graceful dynamism of their arching stems, curled leaves and vivid blooms is striking. Though his mastery of subtle illumination and details such as the cracks and flaws in the wall, fallen petals, and the mouse, Vosmaer created a still life composition with real narrative impact
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