The combination of a spring tulip and fritillaries with summer herbs and roses suggests that Savery worked on this painting over several months, or else composed it with the help of detailed sketches. Butterflies and a dragonfly alight on various petals, and the vase is flanked by a frog and a lizard.
A native of Flanders, Savery worked in Amsterdam and later Utrecht, where he knew the Bosschaert and Van der Ast families. However, he distinguishes himself from these other artists by the way he subtly suggests the transitions between light and shade. Savery worked for Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II from 1604 to 1613. The Emperor liked iconographical puzzles, and it has been suggested that Savery’s still lifes were allegories of the four elements: along with the water in the vase, the lizard stands for fire, the insects for air, and the flowers for earth.
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