Ambrosius Bosschaert (Dutch, 1573-1621)
oil on copper, Framed: 60.3 x 52.8 x 6.4 cm (23 11/16 x 20 3/4 x 2 1/2 in.); Unframed: 35.6 x 29.3 cm (14 x 11 1/2 in.). Gift of Carrie Moss Halle in memory of Salmon Portland Halle 1960.108
One of the first artists to specialize in flower painting, Bosschaert depicted flowers with a fine technique that seems almost devoid of individual brushstrokes. His precision is also a result of the painting's copper support. When applied to the white ground typically used to coat a copper plate, oil paint takes on an enamel-like quality.
Placed in a simple studded glass, the principal flowers of this bouquet are tulips, each carefully silhouetted so that their individual features could be portrayed. The anchor of this carefully arranged composition is the spider lily (hymenocallis) in the lower center, accompanied by two yellow crocuses. Butterflies, other insects, and snails enliven this still life. Bosschaert worked in the town of Middelburg, where he had access to several botanical gardens and scientific collections of natural specimens. He was also an art dealer, who traded with Antwerp, Frankfurt, London, and Ireland.
1Although there are a handful of paintings by Bosschaert listed in 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century auction catalogues that appear similar to this painting in terms of description, medium, and approximate dimensions, the absence of reproductions and lack of later provenance make it difficult to determine whether any of them are indeed the CMA picture.
CMA, November 1965: "Year in Review", cat., CMA Bull., LII (November 1965), cat. no. 91, repr. p. 130.
CMA, October 21, 1986-March 8, 1987: The Magic of Still Life, Gallery A. No catalogue.
Amsterdam, Netherlands (6/19/99 - 9/19/00); CMA (10/3/99 - 1/9/00) "Still-Life Paintings from the Netherlands 1550-1720" cat. no. 5, pp. 117-119.
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