The new acquisition can be admired on display from 24 March. During the visitor presentation the work by Savery will hang on a wall with Ambrosius Bosschaert’s Vase of Flowers in a Window – one of the visitor’s favourites of the Mauritshuis – and Jacob de Gheyn’s, Flowers in a Glass Flask, which the Mauritshuis has in long-time loan from the Historical Museum of the Hague.
The similarities between Roelant Savery’s Vase of Flowers in a Stone Niche and Ambrosius Bosschaert’s Vase of Flowers in a Window is striking. Both paintings are of a similar size and composition. The floral still-life by Jacob de Gheyn II, Flowers in a Glass Flask, also fits in perfectly here.
An ambitious still-life
Savery put his bouquet in a stone niche. The glass serving as vase protrudes slightly over the edge of the niche, creating a delicate shadow. The trompe-l’oeil effect is further highlighted by the small painted cracks in the stone surround of the niche. The signature and year are chiselled below left in the frame.
Vase of Flowers in a Stone Niche is dated 1615. Therefore Savery presumably painted it shortly after his departure from Prague. It was one of his most ambitious floral still-lifes. Savery paid utmost attention to all details. The size is also striking: it was the second largest floral piece that he painted.
Threatening thorn branches
Like many early floral still-lifes, Savery’s bouquet could not have existed in reality. The bouquet’s flowers actually bloom at different times of the year. In this sense, Savery surpasses nature.
In the heart of the representation, amidst the most colourful flowers – roses, tulips, an iris, martagon lily, columbines and a delphinium – several threatening thorn brushes stick out. Razor sharp thorns among the loveliest flowers: danger lurks at every corner.
Savery’s preference for the untamed, ominous aspect of nature can also frequently be found in his landscapes: rough mountain landscapes and dark forests with dead trees amidst the green.
Bouquet full of life
Apart from flowers, Savery also filled his floral still-life with many animals. To the left is a butterfly on a bright-red lily. A second butterfly is to the right on a carnation. A fat blowfly has descended on a tulip and a drone is sitting on a garden nasturtium.
A sand lizard is crawling up along the frame into the niche, perhaps on his way to the dragonfly on the cyclamen’s leaf, a snack a second lizard also has his eye on. Around the vase there are also two beetles: a buying beetle and a rhinoceros beetle.
Has your curiosity been stirred? The new acquisition can now be admired in hall 8 of the Mauritshuis.
We’d like to introduce you to our new acquisition with a special colouring page. You can download it and get to work with pencils or markers. It will help you get to know all the flowers, leaves, twigs and insects in Savery’s amazing flower still life.