This afternoon at the TEFAF Art Fair in Maastricht, the Mauritshuis presented their new acquisition to the press. The museum has acquired a masterpiece by the 17th-century painter Roelant Savery (1576-1639) for € 6.5 million, thanks to the generous support of the sponsors BankGiro Lottery, the Rembrandt Association and a private individual. The painting, Vase of Flowers in a Stone Niche (1615), was destined to be on display at Tefaf in Maastricht, The Netherlands.
Mauritshuis knew that it had to act quickly, as it expected fierce competition for the work at the prestigious art fair, and managed to conclude the sale prior to the opening of Tefaf. The new acquisition was exhibited at Tefaf for the opening today, and will remain on view for visitors during the fair.
Director of the Mauritshuis, Emile Gardener: “Floral still-lifes painted by Savery are very rare, and don’t come on the market very often, definitely not an artwork of such high quality.
This painting is without any doubt among the best work of the master and it will enrich both the collection of Mauritshuis and the Dutch national art collection. It comes from a private collection and has not been exhibited in public for many years”.
A complete flower bouquet
The genre of floral still-life is especially well represented in the collection of the Mauritshuis. It’s one of the few museums in the world that can exhibit a representative overview of the evolution of this genre from the 16-th century through the 18th-century. The museum already owned excellent examples by two of the three pioneers of the independent floral still-life genre: Ambrosius Bosschaert and Jacob de Gheyn. The acquisition completes the ‘bouquet’.
Vase of Flowers in a Stone Niche was one of Savery’s most ambitious floral still-life, not only because of its relatively large dimensions (it was the second largest floral piece that he painted), but also because of the meticulous way in which all the details are depicted. The glass containing the flowers protrudes slightly over the edge and casts a delicate shadow onto the lavishly rendered stone surround. The signature of the artist and the year 1615 seem to be chiseled onto the stone below the vase, on the left hand side. Small, painted cracks in the stone surround enhance the troupe l’oeil effect of the piece.
A rugged representation
As was typical in early 17th-century floral still-lifes, the painting shows something which doesn’t exist in reality: flowers that actually bloom at different times of the year. In this sense, the painting surpasses nature. Amidst the colorful bounty of the flowers, thorn bushes strikingly occupy the centre of the painting. These thorns evoke a rather ominous atmosphere, perhaps as a warning not to be misled by the alluring beauty of the flowers in bloom.
Savery had a penchant for representing untamed and often foreboding nature. His predilection is also apparent in this floral piece. It’s a world in which beautiful flowers bedazzle, but where danger lurks at every corner: the razor-sharp thorns between the flowers, the lizards pursuing a dragonfly and the Mandingos large beetles creeping around the vase.
The painting can be admired during the Tefaf at stand 306 Colnaghi and will be on show in the Mauritshuis from 24 March 2016.
Sources: Mauritshuis and Colnaghi