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Dutch Painting

Still Life with Flowers

Jan van Huysum
Oil on panel, 81 x 61 cm.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Still Life with Flowers, Jan van Huysum

Jan van HUYSUM
1682 Amsterdam–1749, Amsterdam

Unlike most Dutch still life specialists, Jan van Huysum insisted on working out the details of his paintings from close study of the world around him. He once wrote a patron to explain that her painting would be delayed a year because, unable to obtain a real yellow rose, he could not finish the picture. Called by his contemporaries "the phoenix of all flower painters," Van Huysum learned his craft from his father. He lived in Amsterdam his whole life and focused on flower pictures, though he also painted some landscapes and mythological scenes. Van Huysum was also a prolific draftsman whose drawings served as both preliminary studies and finished works. The profuse bouquets that won Van Huysum an international reputation included flowers from all seasons, arranged with elegance and seeming spontaneity in various states of bloom and demise. Eager collectors often paid more than a thousand guilders for them. He intended to instruct as well as delight. While viewers could contemplate the transience of flowers, their beauty was also a call to faith, as he pointed out by inscribing this Bible verse on a flower jar: "Consider the lilies of the field, Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

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