Still Life with Flowers on a Marble Slab (1716) by Rachel Ruysch

Still Life with Flowers on a Marble Slab - Rachel Ruysch - 1716

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Artwork Information

TitleStill Life with Flowers on a Marble Slab
ArtistRachel Ruysch
Date1716
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions48.5 x 39.5 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationRijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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About Still Life with Flowers on a Marble Slab

“Still Life with Flowers on a Marble Slab,” a masterpiece from 1716 by the renowned Dutch artist Rachel Ruysch, is a testament to the intricate beauty and complexity of floral still life paintings. This oil on canvas work, measuring 48.5 cm by 39.5 cm, is proudly housed in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The painting captures a stunning array of over ten different flower species, each meticulously detailed, alongside a lively assortment of insects. The composition is such that it presents a bouquet which, in reality, would be impossible to assemble due to the varying blooming seasons of the flowers depicted.

Ruysch’s work was created towards the end of her tenure as court painter to Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine, marking a period when she was at the zenith of her artistic fame. Her paintings were highly valued, often fetching higher prices than those of Rembrandt or even her husband, Jurriaen Pool. The exact price paid for this particular piece remains unknown, but its worth was undoubtedly significant, reflecting the esteem of Ruysch’s artistry during her lifetime.

The legacy of “Still Life with Flowers on a Marble Slab” extends beyond its initial creation, as evidenced by its influence on other artists and its journey through various esteemed collections. At one point, the painting was replicated, with the copy now residing at the Ashmolean Museum. It also piqued the interest of notable art collectors, including Lucretia Johanna van Winter, who merged her impressive collection with that of her husband’s upon marriage. After her passing, her son sold the painting to the Rijksmuseum in 1908, where it has since been accessible to the public.

Rachel Ruysch’s “Still Life with Flowers on a Marble Slab” is not just a visual feast of flora and fauna; it encapsulates the rich symbolism and significance of still life paintings in the 17th century. These works often served as a reminder of the fleeting nature of life and the ephemeral quality of earthly pleasures. In the Protestant Netherlands, the genre flourished, with individual flowers carrying specific meanings—roses for love or the Virgin Mary, lilies for purity, and sunflowers for divine love and devotion. This painting, teeming with life and detail, invites viewers to ponder the transient beauty of the world around them, a theme as resonant now as it was in Ruysch’s time.

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