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Paulus Theodorus van Brussel, Flowers in a Vase

Key facts
Full title Flowers in a Vase
Artist Paulus Theodorus van Brussel
Artist dates 1754 - 1795
Date made 1792
Medium and support Oil on mahogany
Dimensions 81.1 × 58.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by W.W. Aston, 1919
Inventory number NG3225
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Flowers in a Vase
Paulus Theodorus van Brussel

Van Brussel’s painting is a celebration of nature, and also a clever piece of deception: in one vase he shows flowers that are in bloom at different times of the year. To achieve this, he would have used sketches made when the flowers were available.

His precise drawing and fluid brushwork enable him to evoke different subtle textures – delicate tendrils and curling petals, spiky twigs, delicate butterfly wings. Transparent raindrops trickle down leaves and the yolk oozes from one of the tiny eggs in the bird’s nest.

The flowers in the picture are not the individual exotic specimens shown by artists a hundred years earlier. Tulips, narcissi, poppies, roses, stocks and peonies had become easily available. Van Brussel has massed them together in a delightful disorder, placing his bouquet against the background of a garden with classical statues, in the French Rococo style that had become popular in the Netherlands.

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