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Osaias Beert the Elder, Flowers in a porcelain Wan-Li Vase

Key facts
Full title Flowers in a porcelain Wan-Li Vase
Artist Osaias Beert the Elder
Artist dates 1580 - 1624
Series Two Flower Paintings
Date made about 1615
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 35 × 24.5 cm
Acquisition credit On loan from the collection of Janice and Brian Capstick
Inventory number L1206
Location Not on display
Image copyright On loan from the collection of Janice and Brian Capstick, © © Photo courtesy of the owner
Collection Main Collection
Flowers in a porcelain Wan-Li Vase
Osaias Beert the Elder

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.

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Two Flower Paintings