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Jan Frans van Dael (Antwerp 1764-1840 Paris)
Property from a Private Collection
Jan Frans van Dael (Antwerp 1764-1840 Paris)

A Crown Imperial, roses, hyacinths, an iris and other flowers in a terracotta vase with a bird's nest on a plinth

Details
Jan Frans van Dael (Antwerp 1764-1840 Paris)
A Crown Imperial, roses, hyacinths, an iris and other flowers in a terracotta vase with a bird's nest on a plinth
signed and dated 'Vandael 1832 / d'anvers.' (lower left, on the marble plinth)
oil on canvas
39 ¾ x 31 ¼ in. (101 x 79.4 cm.)
Provenance
In the same private collection for at least the last 70 years.
Exhibited
(Possibly) Paris, Salon, 1833, no. 2312.

Lot Essay

Perpetuating the traditions of the work of the great Dutch still-life painters of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, notably Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1684) and Jan van Huysum (1682-1749), this sumptuous flower painting is a fine example of Jan Frans van Dael’s later work. The painter has carefully observed individual blooms from life, combining these studies in a naturalistic, harmonious bouquet, in which each minute detail is precisely rendered, down to the tiny shadows cast by the droplets of water on the leaves. The scale and vibrant palette of van Dael’s large canvas indicate a movement away from the scientific, and often more moralising concerns of earlier generations of still-life painters. Indeed, as the rarity of exotic flora became less pertinent, flower paintings such as this were increasingly sought after, not for their moral content, but for their remarkable profusion of detail, colour and variety.

Van Dael became a fashionable and highly coveted painter of flower still-lifes in France during the early nineteenth century. Though a native of Antwerp, where he had trained as an architect, van Dael had settled in Paris to work as a painter in the mid-1780s. His early years in the city saw him quickly establish himself working for France’s ruling classes. In 1786, he began his career working as a decorative painter, assisting the Belgian artist Piat Sauvage (1744-1818) with his work at the Château de Saint-Cloud, near Paris, which had been purchased the year before by Marie Antoinette from Louis Philippe, duc d'Orléans (1725-1785). With the ascent of Napoleon and the establishment of the French Empire in 1804, van Dael again found favour with the country’s ruling classes, benefitting from the enthusiastic patronage of the French empresses, Joséphine de Beauharnais (1763-1814) and later Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma (1791-1847). After Napoleon’s exile to Elba in 1815, and the Restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy, van Dael painted for Louis XVIII and Charles X, who bestowed on him the medal of the Legion of Honour. Van Dael regularly exhibited at the Paris Salon between 1793 and 1833, and it is possible that this Flowers in a terracotta vase is that listed the in 1833 catalogue as a ‘Tableau de fleurs’, however, given its abbreviated description in the catalogue, this cannot be firmly established. While the picture is dated to the preceding year, the Salon of 1832 had been cancelled following the outbreak of cholera in the city. After the abdication of Charles X in 1830, the French monarchy passed to Louis-Philippe, King of the French (1773-1850). The so-called July Monarchy followed ‘juste milieu’ (middle of the road) policies, dispensing with the vehement conservatism of the restored Bourbon monarchy. The period saw the re-emergence of a wealthy bourgeoisie in France providing an abundance of eager patrons for the highly respected van Dael.

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