Offered by Galerie Thierry Matranga
Old paintings, religious artifacts, archeology
Oil on parquet panel. Holland, early 17th century, attributed to Jacques de Gheyn II.
In a niche in the center of the painting, a splendid bouquet of flowers rests in a glass vase. The apparent spontaneity of this work should not make us forget that it is a composition skilfully orchestrated so that each flower shines without overshadowing its neighbors. To do this, our artist, Jacques de Gheyn II, places his vanishing point relatively high so that the green leaves below form a base allowing the transition with the vase. Each form of flower then offers possibilities of symmetry within the whole: the falling fritillaries counterbalance the gushing columbines, the small sprigs of lily of the valley in the center balance the masses of roses and chrysanthemums; finally, the tulips, the object of all the passions and speculations at the beginning of the 17th century, constitute the central axis of the composition. The harmony of the tones contributes to the readability of the whole by the alternation of warm and cold colors on a dark architectural background. While imparting a feeling of life to the whole, the few insects present around the bouquet increase the moral sense of a work where aesthetic and symbolic pleasures, beauty and vanity meet. Caterpillars called to metamorphose into butterflies on one side, plants with ephemeral blooms on the other: here everything converges to remind us of the brief and cyclical nature of life.
Jacques de Gheyn II was also one of the first Dutch flower painters, even before Ambrosius Bosschaert. Some twenty watercolors painted on vellum bear witness to the preparatory work he did in the early 1600s to paint floral still lifes in oil, of which very few copies have survived. The Mauritshuis in The Hague preserves one of them, dated 1612, whose composition can be compared to our painting. His still lifes were so successful that Jacques de Gheyn II had the emperor Rudolf II as a client and received 1000 florins from the stadhouder in 1606 for a painting that was later presented to Marie de Medici. His contemporaries were full of praise for him. For example, Karel van Mander saw him as "a complete artist, capable of painting both from the motif and from his imagination". Finally, Constantin Huygens, secretary to Frederick-Henri of Orange Nassau, praises in his memoirs the watercolors of Jacques De Gheyn II whose "flowers and leaves [...] are painted with grace, elegance and realism".
We have chosen to present the work in a tusco-emilian casseta frame with scrolling decoration of foliage in bullinato in the dishes, first quarter of the 17th century.
Dimensions: 56 x 43 cm - 72 x 60 cm with the frame.