Osias Beert, Bloemen in een nis, Rockoxhuis, Antwerpen.


The floral still life originates in Antwerp around 1600 as a separate genre of painting. Since the 16th Century, the interest about Nature increases. One of the interests deals with Botany. Collectors plant botanical gardens and cultivate exotic types of plants. Illustrated herbaria also come into the picture. Artists take their turn at painting flora in a way that is faithful to Nature.

The floral still life is a genre that does well in the market with the aristocracy. A floral still life indicates the motif of vanitas because of the limited lifespan of a flower. The preoccupation with vanitas is connected to the Christian ethic and deals with the evanescence of life.

Jan Brueghel I (1568-1625) is an important innovator of the genre. Among other things, he paints vases with a large number of flower types that are contained in a methodological, balanced scheme. Brueghel analytically goes to work with the study of the flowers, however, just as with other painters, such as his student Daniël Seghers (1590-1661), he does not take into account the correct blooming time of the flowers.

A painter such as Seghers is specialised in the making of garlands and festoons made up from flowers, which were placed as a frame around devotional paintings, whether in niches or in medallions. The devotional panels are painted by other artists.

Matthias Depoorter