THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
Dr Herbert Girardet, Essen, by 1970;
Thence by descent.
With Jan Brueghel the Elder and to a lesser extent Roelandt Savery, Bosschaert was wholly responsible for the sudden outburst of flower painting in the Netherlands at the start of the seventeenth century. Unlike Brueghel and Savery however Bosschaert built a career almost entirely on the depiction of flowers and he was the first painter to do so. The causes for this remarkably rapid growth of interest in and production of flower painting from 1606 onwards are various. For Savery it was certainly the obsessive interest in the natural world of his patron in Prague, the Emperor Rudolf II, and the activities of a coterie of artists responding to it in media other than oil painting: for example in works on vellum by Jacques De Gheyn, Joris Hoefnagel and others, and in prints. For Jan Brueghel a key impetus came from his loyal patrons in Italy who had earlier promoted his career in the depiction of landscapes. In the work of these artists, and in that of Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder in Middelburg, their developments as flower painters can be charted in a succession of dated works from 1606 onwards.
It is generally accepted that Bosschaert is likely to have encountered Jan Brueghel and his work in 1606, because his flower pieces from that year onwards show an awareness of Brueghel’s style, and this contact must have been renewed in subsequent years, because as Bosschaert’s highly personal style develops, awareness of what Brueghel was doing is detectable in his work.2 That Bosschaert’s artistic personality was amenable to influence becomes clear from the works painted upon his arrival in Utrecht with his brother-in-law Balthasar van der Ast, which respond immediately to what Savery was doing there following his return from Prague. In August 1619 he moved to Breda where he settled. He died in The Hague in 1621 while delivering a flower piece.
Note on Provenance
Herbert Girardet was the scion of an ancient Huguenot family. His ancestor Wilhelm Girardet (1838–1918) founded a printing works in Essen and later became a newspaper publisher. Herbert Girardet assembled a superb collection of Dutch and Flemish pictures in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. He had a special affection for small-scale works on copper, including two outstanding paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder, and the present work, which was one of his last purchases, acquired the year before the exhibition of his collection.
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