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Jacob van Walscapelle, Flowers in a Glass Vase

Key facts
Full title Flowers in a Glass Vase
Artist Jacob van Walscapelle
Artist dates 1644 - 1727
Date made about 1670
Medium and support Oil on canvas, mounted onto oak
Dimensions 59.8 × 47.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG1002
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Flowers in a Glass Vase
Jacob van Walscapelle

The luxuriant flowers in van Walscapelle’s painting loom out of the darkness. A single shaft of light makes them glow. His painting seems alive and moving – nature is busy. The flowers appear to nod as if a breeze has passed through, leaving leaves trailing, the petals of the tulip dropping, a caterpillar dangling like an acrobat falling from a trapeze.

The flowers couldn‘t have been in bloom at the same time. Nor could the summer strawberries at one end of the shelf be ripe at the same time as the luscious autumn blackberries at the other. But van Walscapelle isn’t just painting a scientific study – he’s painting a celebration of nature.

He shows fresh, spring violas, the tulip already fading to make room for summer lilies and roses. The ears of wheat, their stems and leaves already brittle, straggle through the picture. They represent autumn, the end of the cycle. It’s as if we are moving through the seasons in a single dark room.

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