Nicholaes van Verendael

Still life of roses, a tulip, poppy anemones, jasmine, aquilegia, morning glory and other flowers in a glass vase on a stone ledge

Oil on canvas: 16(h) x 11.7(w) in /

40.6(h) x 29.8(w) cm

Signed and dated lower right: ni. V. verendael 1671

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BT 190

 

NICOLAES VAN VERENDAEL

Antwerp 1640 – 1691 Antwerp

 

Still life of roses, a tulip, poppy anemones, jasmine, aquilegia, morning glory and other flowers in a glass vase on a stone ledge

 

Signed lower right: ni. v. verendael 1671

Oil on canvas: 16 x 11 ¾ in / 40.6 x 29.8 cm

Frame size: 21 ¼ x 17 ¼ in / 54 x 43.8 cm

 

Provenance:

Sotheby’s London, 7th December 1960, lot 67

Leonard Koetser, London, 1960

GM Hallowes Collection, UK;

Sotheby’s London, 11th March 1964, lot 67, illus.

Leonard Koetser, London, 1964

Paul Mellon, Upperville, VA;

Christie’s New York, 18th January 1984, lot 9

Private collection, USA

 

 

A glass vase of flowers sits on a stone ledge. The bouquet includes, among other flowers, various kinds of roses, anemones, a tulip, columbine, pot marigold, morning glory, pomegranate blossom, jasmine, and rosemary. Various creatures enliven the composition. On the flowers, there are damsel flies, caterpillars, butterflies and moths (among them orange tip, silver-studded blue, and magpie moth). On the edge of the stone table, a bug has alighted, and to the right of the vase there are a caterpillar (of the magpie moth) and a longhorn beetle. Another longhorn beetle sits on the back of the blue anemone to the left. On the flowers leaves and on the table top, there are numerous dewdrops.[i]

 

Nicolaes van Verendael was born in Antwerp in 1640. He entered the painters’ guild as a

master’s son at the age of seventeen. It is unknown who his teacher was. Although he was active for over thirty years, he was not very prolific, judging from his extant oeuvre. Reputedly, he was a slow worker, which must have been due in part to the meticulous attention he devoted to detail. According to some sources, he was not able to earn a decent living for himself and his family and reportedly he died in relative poverty.

 

In the majority of Verendael’s works, flowers play a prominent role: most of his paintings are of vases of flowers, and several floral cartouche still lifes, garlands and festoons are known by him as well. In addition, he painted some other types of still lifes, including a few explicit vanitas still lifes, and also he painted some allegorical genre scenes with monkeys. His early still lifes were often fairly simple compositions, later on his bouquets became more lavish and more loosely arranged. On some occasions Verendael contributed flowers to works by other artists, such as David Teniers II and Caspar van Opstal. In a flower painting from the 1640s by Jan Davidsz. de Heem, now in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Verendael added a number of flowers sometime in the 1670s, probably at the request of its owner at that time. This testifies to the high esteem Verendael held in his own time. Towards the end of his career, Verendael’s technique became less refined, however.

Nicolaes van Verendael’s compositions and choice of flowers are rather consistent. Many of the flower species in this bouquet can also be found in other works by the artist, but Verendael does not appear to have worked from an existing body of studies, as many of his contemporaries did, since fully identical flowers rarely appear in his work. He more likely studied each flower he painted anew, or otherwise he was a clever, meticulous, and botanically knowledgeable improviser.

 

Nicolaes van Verendael’s bouquet of flowers discussed here is one of his characteristic modest but elaborate compositions. From his relatively few known dated works it becomes clear that Verendael’s paintings from the 1660s and early 1670s are his most refined, detailed and precisely handled. The date on this floral bouquet, 1671, is extra confirmation that it belongs to this period, as the quality of the handling in itself suggests. The composition and type of this floral style life are also characteristic for Nicolaes van Verendael’s work from the first half of the 1670s. Several dated examples show a similar arrangement on paintings of a similar size (figs 1-4).[ii] These examples clearly show how Verendael’s style and handling were very consistent during this period.

 

Verendael’s flowers were built up with several paint glazes, working up froman evenly coloured basic shape to refined details, often rendered in colours mixedwith white, in this way providing the flowers with a velvety softness. Verendael used coloured grounds not only for his tinted flowers, but also for some white ones. The pink rose in the centre was painted on top of a red ground, but so was the white one above it. As a result, its white has a much warmer tonality than that of the one next to it, which was painted upon a darker ground and as such its white is much cooler. The red-and white anemone in the central cluster of flowers was also built up upon a red preparation. Through his personal style, technique, and palette, the work of Nicolaes van Verendael is always easily recognisable, even though it clearly shows the impact of influential artists such as Jan Davidsz. de Heem and, particularly, Daniel Seghers. The quality of Verendael’s flower paintings, however, especially when they have been preserved well, which is also the case for the painting discussed here, can hardly be considered as second to the work of those artists. Verendael’s bouquets are wonderful feats of illusionism, the present one not the least. While many of these flowers could not have been seen together in real life, in the painting their arrangement looks fully realistic, natural and fresh.

 

Fred G Meijer

 

 

[i] A relatively good, free, and early copy of this composition was auctioned at Koller’s in Zurich, 22/24 March 1995, lot 16, as by N. van Verendael, see database RKDimages, record no. 198441.

 

[ii] Fig. 1: oil on canvas, 45 x 35,5 cm, signed and dated 1671, with Richard Green, London, in 1995; fig. 2: oil on canvas, 43 x 33 cm, signed, with Richard Green, London, in 1981; fig. 3: oil on canvas, 34,2 x 26,6 cm, signed and dated 1673, Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, inv. no. PD.94.1973; fig 4: oil on canvas, 31 x 22,5 cm, signed and dated 1673, with Richard Green, London, 2002.

 

Illustrations

 

 

 1  2

 

 3  4

 

 

 

 

Old MasterNicholaes van Verendael