Vase of Flowers in a Stone Niche

The Mauritshuis has acquired a masterpiece by the 17th-century painter Roelant Savery, thanks to the generous support of the BankGiro Lottery, the Rembrandt Association and a private individual.

The acquisition, the painting Vase of Flowers in a Stone Niche (1615), can be admired in the Mauritshuis, room 8.

 

Who was Roelant Savery? And why is this painting such a rare masterpiece?

 

An extraordinary talent

Roelant Savery was born in Kortrijk in 1576 as son of a protestant family. After the conquest of Kortrijk by the Spanish troops the Savery family fled to Haarlem.

 

Karel van Mander, who probably knew the family well, mentions that Roelant was a pupil of his brother Jacob Savery, who had established himself as a painter in Amsterdam. After his education, he continued to work in his brother’s studio.

 

Court painter in Prague

After the death of his brother Jacob, Roelant’s career took a special turn. His huge interest in nature appealed to the Habsburg emperor Rudolf II. In 1604 Savery left for the court of Prague. In the menageries and gardens of Rudolf II the young artist could study exotic animals and plants in real life. Especially the dodo was an exceptional presence that can be found in many of Savery’s paintings.

Back in Holland

After the death of emperor Rudolf II, Savery took service with his successor, emperor Matthias. However, Savery didn’t remain in the court for much longer. In 1614 he returned to Amsterdam for family matters. In official documents, Savery was still mentioned as equerry a year later, but he probably never returned to Prague.

In 1618 Savery lived in Haarlem for a short while. Later that year he moved to Utrecht, where he stayed for the rest of his successful career. His love for nature always remained. Savery had a garden laid out at his Utrecht house in the Boterstraat with the loveliest flowers and plants. The dwelling, which was called Het Keijerswapen (left here), is still a well-known tourist attraction in the city centre of Utrecht.

 

Popular in courtly circles

Savery’s work was already much loved in various courtly circles in his time. Apart from the Habsburg emperor, English King Charles I and the Prince of Liechtenstein also ordered his work. Stadtholder Frederik Hendrik and his wife Amalia van Solms owned two works by Savery. Orpheus Charming the Animals with his Music can currently be admired in the Mauritshuis collection.