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Jan Davidsz. de Heem, 'Flowers in a Glass Bottle on a Marble Plinth', about 1670

Key facts
Full title Flowers in a Glass Bottle on a Marble Plinth
Artist Jan Davidsz. de Heem
Artist dates 1606 - 1683/4
Date made about 1670
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 50 × 40.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit On loan from the collection of Janice and Brian Capstick
Inventory number L1207
Location Room 17
Image copyright On loan from the collection of Janice and Brian Capstick, © Photo courtesy of the owner
Collection Main Collection
Flowers in a Glass Bottle on a Marble Plinth
Jan Davidsz. de Heem

The most celebrated still life painter of his day, de Heem made a number of innovations in the art of flower painting. Here, stems and tendrils burst out from his bouquet, adding movement and dynamism to the composition. The flowers face different directions and extend out from the vase, in marked contrast to earlier, more static compositions in which all the flowers tended to face the viewer.

In this composition, de Heem emphasises roundness, from the marble pedestal and the glass vase reflecting the studio window to the ample blooms and curving stems of hops and wheat. Even the forms of the snail, bumblebee and cross spider on the edge of the plinth contribute to this effect.

The bright colours of the flowers are expertly distributed. The red of the tulip and poppy at top right, for example, finds its counterpart in the red currants at lower left, while the rich ochre of the sunflower at top is balanced by the honeysuckle and ear of wheat at lower right.

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