The J. Paul Getty Museum

Flower Still Life

Object Details


Flower Still Life


Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (Dutch, 1573 - 1621)






Oil on copper

Object Number:



30.5 × 38.9 cm (12 × 15 5/16 in.)

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Object Description

A pink carnation, a white rose, and a yellow tulip with red stripes lie in front of a basket of brilliantly colored flowers. Various types of flowers that would not bloom in the same season appear together here: roses, forget-me-nots, lilies-of-the-valley, a cyclamen, a violet, a hyacinth, and tulips. Rendering meticulous detail, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder conveyed the silky texture of the petals, the prickliness of the rose thorns, and the fragility of opening buds. Insects crawl, alight, or perch on the bouquet. Each is carefully described and observed, from the dragonfly's transparent wings to the butterfly's minutely painted antennae. Although a vague reference, insects, short-lived like flowers, are a reminder of the brevity of life and the transience of its beauty.

A rising interest in botany and a passion for flowers led to an increase in painted floral still lifes at the end of the 1500s in both the Netherlands and Germany. Bosschaert was the first great Dutch specialist in fruit and flower painting and the head of a family of artists. He established a tradition that influenced an entire generation of fruit and flower painters in the Netherlands.

by about 1911 -

Zickenbraht (Berlin, Germany)


Carl S. Mahler (Berlin, Germany)

- 1983

Private Collection (England) [sold, "Property of a Lady" sale, Christie's, London, December 2, 1983, lot 122, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

The Mauritshuis in Bloom: Bouquets from the Golden Age (April 15 to August 2, 1992)
  • Mauritshuis (The Hague), April 15 to August 2, 1992
Art and Science: Joris Hoefnagel and the Representation of Nature in the Renaissance (October 12, 1999 to January 16, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 12, 1999 to January 16, 2000

Christie's, London. Important Old Master Pictures. December 2, 1983, pp. 220-21, lot 122, ill., cover ill.

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Fredericksen, Burton B. "Recent Acquisitions of Paintings: The J. Paul Getty Museum." Burlington Magazine 127, no. 985 (April 1985), p. 261.

Rodwell, Jenny. Flower Painting: 25 Flower Painting Projects Illustrated Step-by-Step with Advice on Materials and Techniques (London: North Light, 1985), pp. 16-17, ill.

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Fredericksen, Burton B. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988), unpaginated, no. 18, ill.

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Lokin, Daniëlle H. A. C. A Painting of 1617 by Balthasar van der Ast (Amsterdam: Kunsthandel Charles Roelofsz, 2002), p. 9, ill.

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Chansigaud, Valérie. Une histoire des fleurs: Entre nature et culture (Paris: Delachaux et Niestlé, 2014), pp. 68-69, ill.