Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Johannes Vermeer and Flower Painting during the Dutch Golden Age

Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder created a dynasty of painters dedicated to flower bouquets. He was very sought after and his paintings demanded very high prices. He influenced many others and flowers were commonly shown in other paintings of this period. However, flowers are all but absent from Vermeer’s work. They are laborious and therefore time consuming. He would rather paint a detailed map of the United Provinces, so detailed that his maker could be identified, than one single rose, iris or tulip.

So, I took it on myself to address this. I wanted to create an photographic painting of what would a flower bouquet painting by Vermeer would look like. That is, a composition that could be recognized as a Vermeer painting by the lighting and other recognizable elements but with a typical Dutch Golden Age flower bouquet.
This is how I came about “The Bosschaert’s are visiting” which is about a fictional encounter between Vermeer and Bosschaert. This would have been the encounter of two titans. You can just imagine the discussing their styles, the market for paintings and other typical discussion of the time, while sipping white wine in their berkemeyers. 

Even as a fiction, I had to verify whether this could have been possible back in the XVII Century, Unfortunally it wasn’t, Bosschaert had passed away before Vermeer was a master. But,Balthasar Van der Ast who was Bosschaert bother in law, was a fine painter of flower bouquets in his own right. He would fit the bill nicely.

I am a visual person, so I decided that the easiest way to see how all these painters shared time I decided to plot their life spans into what is the following graphic. I included those painters that I have been working with, plus some others that are relevant to my work about the Dutch Golden Age, e.g. Peter de Hooch. Rembrandt was included as he was widely recognized at the time as the top painter in the United Provinces.

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