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Flowers in a Vase

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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Rachel Ruysch’s elegant bouquet carries a breath of autumn. Pear blossom, peonies, honeysuckle and columbine all bloom early in the year, but the burnt orange and deep green of the lilies, the seed pod straggling over the edge of the shelf, the ripe wheat and the dry, veined leaves turn away thoughts of spring. The light on the pale flowers sweeps upwards, making them luminous. Overhead, Ruysch’s delicate brushstrokes seem to skim over the surface of the picture, so that the dusky blue columbine seem as if they're drifting in the darkness. The plump green pistil at the centre of the peony appears to anchor the flower to prevent it floating away upwards. Ruysch was one of the most successful flower painters of her time. Her father was keeper of Amsterdam’s botanical garden, a centre of the booming horticultural industry.

The National Gallery, London



Flowers in a Vase


about 1685


Oil on canvas


H 57 x W 43.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bequeathed by Alan Evans, 1974

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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