“A Bouquet of flowers in a Wan-Li Vase surrounded by some shells, grapes and a butterfly”
According to Fred G. Meijer in a digital remark at the RKD in The Hague (January 2016) the current picture was probably started by Johannes Bosschaert and finished and signed by Ambrosius Bosschaert II, perhaps after the death of Johannes; some of the flowers, the grapes and the high elevation of the bouquet are characteristic features of the work of Johannes Bosschaert. (RKD image no 0000190914). Dr Sam Segal has identified the various flowers.
Ambrosius Bosschaert III (often referred to as Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder) was one of the pioneers of Dutch still-life painting. Bosschaert was born in 1573 in Antwerp, the son of the artist Ambrosius Bosschaert II and his wife, Johanna. He presumably received his artistic training from his father. It is likely that Bosschaert began his career depicting rare and exotic flowers and fruit in botanical gardens, and some of his drawings may have been made for the botanist Carolus Clusius. It is certain that Bosschaert used such drawings to compose his paintings, which often include identical flowers, sometimes rendered in reverse.
Following Antwerp’s reconquest by Spanish forces in 1585 and the subsequent expulsion of all non-Catholics, the Protestant Bosschaert family moved to Middelburg in about 1589. There the artist joined the Saint Luke’s Guild in 1593. “Ambrosius Bosschaert” is listed as dean of the guild but it is unclear whether these dates pertain to Bosschaert or his father.
In 1604 Bosschaert married Maria van der Ast, who came from a wealthy Middelburg family. Her younger brother, the painter Balthasar van der Ast (Dutch, 1593/1594 – 1657), lived with the couple and undoubtedly studied with his new brother-in-law. Bosschaert had an extremely successful career in Middelburg, both as a painter and as an art dealer. He was also an effective teacher, which ensured that his distinctive style of painting was carried on by his talented students, who included not only Van der Ast, but also the artist’s sons Ambrosius IV (1609–1645), Johannes (1610–1628), and Abraham (b. 1612/1613–1643).
– Collection stamp ‘Mack al Sicker’, of the Almack family;
– Collection Julia Kraus, art dealer in Paris, inventory no. 2, cat. 1978;
– Sale Amsterdam, Christie’s, May 1998;
– Salomon Lilian Old Master Paintings, Amsterdam 1998-1999 & 2002 cat. p. 13;
– Private Dutch collection;
– Thence by descent;
– with Douwes Fine Art, Amsterdam;
– Acquired at TEFAF 2012 by a private Belgian collection.
– Galerie J. Kraus, Paris, ‘Dutch and Flemish old master paintings and drawings’, 1978, no. 2.;
– Sam Segal, ‘Ambrosius Bosschaert the Younger’ in ‘Masters of Middelburg’, Amsterdam 1984, exhibition catalogue by N. Bakker (et al.), pp. 66-67, ill. no. 19.