OIL PAINTING: Bouquet of Flowers in an Urn, 1724
The main line of eighteenth-century Dutch still-life painting is represented by the Amsterdamers Rachel Ruysch and Jan van Huysum, who both specialized in elaborate flower and fruit paintings - Bouquet of Flowers in an Urn. They were the most popular still-life painters of the period; their paintings commanded high prices and were found in famous collections throughout Europe, and their colourful paintings still have wide appeal. The status they were accorded in their time indicates there were powerful patrons and collectors who took exception to the teachings of academic theorists who minimized the significance of still-lifes by placing them at the lower end of the hierarchy of kinds of painting.
In the hands of Rachel Ruysch and Jan van Huysum Dutch flower pieces brighten up again. Their technical perfection and love of minute detail recall the still-lifes painted a century earlier by Bosschaert and his followers, and like their predecessors they did not hesitate to include flowers of different seasons in their arrangements. However, neither Ruysch nor van Huysum arranges blooms into evenly lit symmetrical bunches in the way that early-seventeenth-century painters did, and their lively chiaroscuro effects and delightful ornateness show an unmistakable affinity with Late Baroque and Rococo art.