Jan BRUEGHEL THE ELDER, Still life of flowers in a clay vase


(Brussels, 1568 - 1625, Antwerp)

Still life of flowers in a clay vase

1607 or 1608

Oil on panel, 66.5 x 51.5 cm


Jan Brueghel the Elder was raised by his grandmother on his maternal side, the miniaturist Mayken Verhulst, from whom he inherited an aptitude for miniaturist painting. He studied with the Antwerp painter Peter Goetkint. Over the course of his life, the artist traveled a great deal, not only working in his native Flanders. He visited Cologne, Rome, Naples, Milan, Prague, Nurenburg … Admirers and patrons of Jan Brueghel the Elder’s talent included Emperor Rudolph II and Cardinal Federico Borromeo. He was appointed court painter to the Spanish governors in Flanders. The master has entered the history of the arts as a stunning exponent of so-called cabinet painting. Jan Brueghel the Elder’s legacy is notable for the unusual variety of genres taken on. He painted landscapes, battle scenes and images of picture galleries magnificently, as well as animal, religious, mythological and allegorical subjects, as well as, of course, still lifes. The finesse of his painting and the detailing of his images, a feature of cabinet painting, in Jan Brueghel the Elder’s work was combined with a resonant coloristic approach and a velvety texture. All of the above-listed qualities were fully reflected in the master’s still lifes. Among his contemporaries, he was known as Brueghel the Floral.

The “Still life with tulips, roses and irises in a clay vase” is dated to 1607 or 1608, based on stylistic similarities to other comparable flower pieces from private collections in Vienna, Prague, Cambridge and Switzerland. Brueghel’s flower pieces have been highly regarded by collectors and critics alike from the very beginning, and the popularity of his works has never faltered. For differentiation purposes Brueghel’s flower pieces have been classified according to the types of containers holding the bouquets, or the size, number and types of flowers depicted. However, the most remarkable aspect is Brueghel’s extraordinary skill of creating such varied and exuberant works with a relatively small number of elements. Brueghel’s bouquets included both the rarest flowers and the most common ones such as roses, tulips and irises that helped to finalize the arrangements. Despite the repetition of motifs his works always remained remarkably fresh.

Condition report:

In overall very good condition.


Important private collection, Zürich, Switzerland


Exhibition’s catalogue “Art Rules”, Tallinn, 2015


The Exhibition “Art Rules” organized by Art-Life Project in Tallinn Town Hall,

5 June 2015 – 5 October 2015, Estonia

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