Vase of Flowers (ca. 1720)
Jan van Huysum
Oil on wood panel
"The 17th-century Dutch were horticultural leaders who introduced Europe to many new species of flowers from their Caribbean and Far Eastern colonies. Huysum gained an international reputation for the technical skill and detailed realism in his sumptuous arrangements of exotic as well as more common specimens. Included here are two rare specimens of tulip (top, left of center), a popular flower originally imported from Constantinople. In the famous market craze of 1637, dubbed Tulipmania, one tulip bulb in Amsterdam was worth the price of a house on a coveted canal lot. The market crashed in 1638, but tulips were still much prized when Huysum painted these blooms a century later."
Oil on canvas (1630)
Saint Jerome was born in 347 and died in 420. Jerome was known for translating most of the Bible into Latin and his teachings on Christian moral life. An interesting anachronism in this is Bloemaert painting Jerome with glasses which were not invented until around 1290 in Italy. It most likely was done on purpose to give a studious appearance.
Still Life, 1638
The 17th-century Dutch viewer would have recognized this softly illuminated still life as a representation of wealth and prosperity. The artist demonstrates his skill at depicting the various textures and reflections on the surfaces of these luxury items: a half-filled wine vessel; a silver or pewter platter and overturned cup-on-stand; a small, Chinese porcelain bowl; and a lemon, with its elegantly spiraling peel. In the porcelain bowl are wild strawberries, a delicacy typically enjoyed with French wine. The recent and seemingly abrupt departure of the person enjoying this light meal suggests the theme of vanitas, reminding us of the fleeting nature of all wealth and pleasure in our mortal state.