The Dutch fascination with nature is described in a riotous display of beautiful and exotic flowers. Arranged in a terracotta vase displaying an antique relief, Jan van Huysum included flowers from all seasons of the year — roses, anemones, hyacinths, tulips, and more — and painted them directly from life. The flowers’ nearly overripe quality attests both to nature’s bounty and its transience. The bouquet is ordered in a loose pyramidal shape, with flowers and greenery almost bursting to be free of the vase. Butterflies and other insects fly or crawl amongst the arrangement, and drops of water are visible on leafs and shiny petals.
Van Huysum painstakingly applied layer upon layer of thin oil glazes to capture the brilliant colors and delicate textures of the blossoms. Because each flower could only be painted while in season, it sometimes took the artist several years to complete a single painting.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program (CC BY 4.0).