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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 Room 17a
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