Saturday, February 7, 2015

Painting of the Day: “Flowers in a Glass,” by Roelandt Savery, 1613

Flowers in a Glass
Roelandt Savery, 1613
On loan from a private collection
to the National Gallery, Britain
Though born in Flanders, painter Roelandt Savery (a fantastic name) lived in Amsterdam from an early age. There, he was responsible for a number of the brilliant still life paintings which defined Seventeenth-Century Flemish and Dutch art. Here, we see a still life of flowers which could not have been painted from life. The blossoms that Savery has combined are from flowers that bloom at different times of the year. The detail of each bloom is spot-on, indicating that he had drawn studies of several flowers throughout the year and combined those designs into this one canvas. The flowers are nestled into an ornate wine glass known as a roemer. Roemers were known for their uneven surface of raised drop-shaped masses of glass.

In typical Dutch fashion, the vase is flanked by a frog and a lizard. The Dutch frequently included animals in their still lifes, which, technically makes them not still lifes. Butterflies and dragonflies flit around the buds, with some alighting on the petals. While these sorts of paintings are often overwrought, this one—though still quite full—takes a less-crowded approach, making the composition appear to be quite realistic.

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