Flowers in a Serpentine Vase
On loan from a private collection, © © Photo courtesy of the owner

Depicting bouquets of similar size and arrangement, this painting and Flowers in a porcelain Wan-li Vase were painted as a pair to be seen together. A purple crocus hangs over the centre edge of each vase, and tulips, red poppy anemones and roses recur in both. Although the stoneware vase here suggests a certain plainness in comparison with the pendant’s refined Chinese porcelain, both bouquets are extravagant, combining indigenous flowers – such as the snake’s head fritillary, sweet briar rose, and pansies – with costly specimens imported from the Mediterranean and Asia Minor.

In order to create a sense of depth, Beert often depicted the flowers at the edges of his arrangements in shadow. Here, the most distant leaves almost recede into the grey-green background. The plain ledge on which the vase sits is a common feature of Beert’s still lifes, as is the panel support: 17th-century artists frequently painted on wood or copper in order to attain the smoothest possible finish for their paintings.  

 

 

 

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1580 - 1624
Full title
Flowers in a Serpentine Vase
Date made
about 1615
Medium and support
Oil on wood
Dimensions
35 × 24.5 cm
Acquisition credit
On loan from a private collection
Inventory number
L1205
Location in Gallery