Dose of Art #50: Jan Davidszoon de Heem – Vase of Flowers (1660)

In the 17th century, still-lifes became very popular, and flowers were an obvious subject for them. With the abundance of colours and forms, painters like de Heem could show their craftsmanship. If you take a close look at this painting, you will see not only flowers, vegetables, fruit, and other plants but also various small animals: butterflies, ants, snails, a caterpillar, a bee and on the bottom left a small lizard and a spider hanging from a fine thread. The glass vase is filled with water, and you can see the reflection of a window in it.
It is easy to see why these paintings became popular; the colours make them stand out at a distance while all the little details invite a closer inspection (you can almost hear the “Oh look, here’s a little snail”).

De Heem is nowadays not as famous as some of his contemporaries (Vermeer, Rembrandt) but at the time he was very popular and he was never out of work. He specialized in still-lives on a wide range of subjects (including deserts) and produced some of the most beautiful ever made. We will definitely see more work of him in future daily doses.