Flowers in a porcelain Wan-Li Vase
On loan from a private collection, © © Photo courtesy of the owner

This painting and its pendant Flowers in a Serpentine Vase depict bouquets of similar size and arrangement, and were intended to be seen together. Both paintings demonstrate Beert’s extensive use of white for highlights and outlines: this is particularly visible here in the rose leaves in the foreground.

Although the red poppy, tulip, carnation and roses are brightly lit, Beert creates a sense of depth in the composition by depicting the farthest edges of his bouquet in shadow. Fallen petals and conspicuous insect damage in the leaves suggest the fleeting beauty of such arrangements and, by extension, human mortality.

The plain stone shelves in this painting and its companion piece are typical of the early 17th century, as is the porcelain Wan-Li vase, a luxury item that would have been imported to the Netherlands from China by the Dutch East India Company.

Key facts

Artist dates
1580 - 1624
Full title
Flowers in a porcelain Wan-Li Vase
Date made
about 1615
Medium and support
Oil on wood
35 × 24.5 cm
Acquisition credit
On loan from a private collection
Inventory number
Location in Gallery