How do we start to decipher VASE OF FLOWERS by Dutch master Jan Davidsz de Heem (1606-1684)? According to the National Gallery’s description (where the work hangs today in Washington, D.C.), you can count 31 types of flowers, vegetables and grains altogether! And if you look more closely, you will discover a snail, a spider, a salamander, ants, and the more appealing moths flying above and around this floral masterpiece! Notice, too, the reflection of a glass window in the almost hidden vase.
For VASE OF FLOWERS was created not only for the enjoyment of the natural world, but also to urge the viewer to meditate upon the brevity of life, through the religious and mythological symbolism associated with plants as well as insects.
And why not google RACHEL RUYSCH (1664-1750), another floral specialist of the Dutch Golden Age!
In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
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