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Jan Frans van Dael (Antwerp 1764-1840 Paris)
PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR 
Jan Frans van Dael (Antwerp 1764-1840 Paris)

A vase of flowers with a bird's nest on a marble ledge

Details
Jan Frans van Dael (Antwerp 1764-1840 Paris) A vase of flowers with a bird's nest on a marble ledge signed and dated 'Van dael/1820' (lower left, on the ledge) oil on canvas 16¼ x 12¾ in. (41 x 32.5 cm.)
Provenance
Collection M.E.H.; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 9 March 1951, lot 35.
Anonymous sale; Tajan, Paris, 9 November 2000, lot 90 (1,600,000 FF).
with Richard Green, London.

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Lot Essay

This elegant still life is by Jan Frans van Dael, an Antwerp-born artist who lived in Paris and exhibited his paintings throughout France and the Low Countries. The present work evokes the 'Golden Age' of floral still lifes by Dutch and Flemish painters such as Roelandt Saverij (1576-1639). Like these masters, Van Dael created exquisitely wrought flower-pieces composed of a variety of species, which he likely studied from life. In this painting, he purposefully arranged the blossoms so that they are represented individually in fine detail, yet also united in a naturalistic and harmonious overall composition. Van Dael applied a smooth gesso layer to his canvas, recreating the jewel-like appearance of the panels used by seventeenth-century artists, whose works he also collected. Van Dael was not bound by tradition, however, and in a departure from seventeenth-century pictures he employed a lighter palette of pinks, blues and yellows.

Van Dael was well acquainted with the artistic innovations and taste of his time. After training as an architectural draftsman at the Antwerp Academy, he relocated in 1786 to Paris, where he contributed to decorative programs at the châteaux of St. Cloud, Bellevue and Chantilly and exhibited at the Paris Salon from 1793-1833. Beginning in 1796, he resided in the artists' accommodations at the Louvre, where he encountered many leading still life painters such as Pierre Joseph Redouté and Gerard van Spaendonck, with whom he trained. Van Dael found lasting success with the type of composition seen in the present work: while this picture is signed and dated 1820, a similar vase of flowers in the Musée des Beaux Arts, Orléans (inv. no. B.A. 1276) is dated ten years earlier. The pronounced popularity of his work is reflected in the prestige of his patrons, who included the Empress Josephine at Malmaison, as well as Marie-Louise Bonaparte, Louis XVIII and Charles X (M. and F. Faré, La vie silencieuse en France, Fribourg, 1976, p. 313).

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