A clever flower stem poking beyond the painted niche makes this arrangement seem all the more real.
Van Huysum includes several butterflies, attracted by the flowers' pungent scent. Only a 'real' flower would attract an insect, or so Van Huysum would have us believe...
Like a florist, Van Huysum has put a lot of thought into the colour combinations in the arrangement.
At first glance it appears an extravagant yet informal mass of flowers but there are patterns such as the red carnation and yellow hollyhock painted next to each other towards the top of the painting and a similar pairing of yellow and red flowers (although different species a rose and a peony) a little lower down the painting to the right.
Van Huysum combines a complex composition, sophisticated use of colour and, not least, the illusion of texture.
A leaf touches a silky petal with a velvety butterfly nearby. The light helps us make out the veiny underside of a leaf versus the shiny side with a trapped water droplet.
This painting is a beautiful, decorative addition to any room.
We can also go a little deeper and find more meaning. Like many still lifes of food and flowers, the items are included for a reason; often, to relate to a theme - as is the case with the grapes. A few are past their best.
If these were real flowers, like the grapes, they would all eventually fade and die, their beauty is transient but van Huysum's flowers still dazzle nearly three hundred years on.