A STILL LIFE OF ROSES, A TULIP, HYACINTHS, MORNING GLORIES AND OTHER FLOWERS IN A VASE, RESTING ON A STONE LEDGE
signed upper right: Rachel Ruysch
17 3/4 by 15 3/8 in.; 45.1 by 39.1 cm.
Artist or Maker
RACHEL RUYSCH The Hague 1664 - 1750 Amsterdam
oil on canvas
Purchased in Holland in the 1920s by the grandmother of the present owner, and thence by descent in the family.
This late career still life by Rachel Ruysch is unrecorded in the literature on the artist and, as such, is an important new addition to her known oeuvre, particularly the period of circa 1730-1743 for which there are only several identifiable works.
Many features of this painting point more specifically to a date of production of about 1740-42: the very tight and compressed floral arrangement which is rather conically-shaped with very little negative space between the leaves and flowers; the use of double hyacinths as a prominent floral element; the marble ledge on which the bouquet sits positioned right on the bottom edge of the composition rather than having space underneath it showing the furniture itself; and the presence of fritillary, a rather old-fashioned flower at this time in Dutch still life (much more typical of work from early 17th century flower painters). The palette is typical of late work as well with yellow-pink-red at center and right, and with electric blue accents confined to the left side. (1)
During this phase of her career, Ruysch was still in full command of her powers even though she would have been as old as 77-79 years of age. The work is no longer based on actual plants but, rather, is an incredible intellectual exercise in assembling from memory the look and disposition of so many varieties of flowering plants. This painting is the work of someone who has entirely mastered her craft over the course of some five decades.
We are grateful to Dr. Marianne Berardi for her assistance in cataloguing this painting. She will include this work in her catalogue raisonné on Rachel Ruysch which is in preparation.
1. Compare with the still life sold New York, Christie's , January 15, 1983, lot 50, signed and dated 1742, with age inscribed as 79.