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Osaias Beert the Elder, Flowers in a Serpentine Vase

Key facts
Full title Flowers in a Serpentine 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 L1205
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 Serpentine Vase
Osaias Beert the Elder

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.  

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Two Flower Paintings