Skip to main content
Flowers in a Vase with Shells and Insects
Balthasar van der Ast
/

This painting is a strange fiction: roses and tulips, lilac and snake’s head lilies, aren't all in bloom at the same time, so the artist would have made drawings and sketches of them at different times of the year, later incorporating them into the picture. Scientific exploration and discovery flourished in the Dutch Republic at this time. As in this painting, art and science often went hand in hand. Artists began to use the newly invented microscope to enable them to paint in accurate detail plants and insects – like the butterfly, the cricket and the wasp zooming down to the fallen rose petals.

What van der Ast paints is so realistic that the objects are almost tangible. In one way they are presented as scientific specimens, but in another as an unfading vision of nature that could never have existed in reality.

Key facts
Artist Balthasar van der Ast
Artist dates 1593/94 - 1657
Full title Flowers in a Vase with Shells and Insects
Date made about 1630
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 47 x 36.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Accepted by H.M. Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the National Gallery, 2003
Inventory number NG6593
Location in Gallery Not on display
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo