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Vase of Flowers
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Follower of Jan van Huysum
Dutch, Amsterdam, mid-1700s
Oil on canvas
21 1/2 x 16 in.
78.PA.66

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Still life painting flourished in Holland in the 1600s. A great interest in botany arose toward the end of the 1500s, when collectors of herbs and plants were spending fortunes on their gardens; their desire for portraits of their prized possessions fueled the popularity of flower painting. Later on, Dutch still lifes were eagerly taken up by French painters and collectors and came to decorate the most fashionable French salons.

Like Jan van Huysum himself, this follower of Huysum embraced many different species in his composition, including flowers that do not bloom in the same season. While Van Huysum usually intended his ephemeral blossoms to convey a Vanitas meditation on the fleetingness of life, this artist's purpose was probably largely decorative. As in its companion Vase of Flowers, the flowers take up nearly the entire canvas, emphasizing the arrangement's abundance. The composition is straightforward, centrally placed against a blank background that sets off the colorful flowers and their Rococo vase.