This large still life of fruit and flowers spilling from a terracotta vase is painted in bright, light tones against the background of an imposing classical building set in an elegant park.

The painting’s excellent condition allows us to appreciate the artist’s meticulous technique as he convincingly recreates the tactile properties of a wide variety of flowers and fruits. Van Os’s command of colour and texture is complemented by the many tiny creatures roaming throughout the display, including a mouse nibbling on a walnut in the foreground.

It was not unusual for a still life painter to date his pictures in two successive years, as here; Jan van Huysum’s Flowers in a terracotta Vase is also dated twice. The artist may have waited for particular flowers to bloom in their different seasons before painting them. Van Os would have been working on a number of still life paintings simultaneously.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1744 - 1808
Full title
Fruit and Flowers in a Terracotta Vase
Date made
1777-8
Medium and support
Oil on mahogany
Dimensions
89.1 x 71 cm
Inscription summary
Dated
Acquisition credit
Presented by Miss V. Churchman in memory of her sister I.N. Churchman, 1988
Inventory number
NG6520
Location in Gallery