Holland's reputation as a country dominated by flowers is not only based on its vast bulb fields and extensive flower export, but also on its tradition of flower painting, which started during Holland's Golden Age. At the beginning of the 17th Century, an interest developed in the depiction of composed flower still lives. Before garlands and groups of flowers were often used to enrich a composition but never before in Holland had it taken such a central place as a stand alone theme of painting.
Throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries artists of all nationalities specialised in this theme. An evolution is clearly visible in their work, dictated not only by fashion but also by the various species of flowers discovered during that time. However there are some elements that clearly define the Dutch taste in flower painting and which have been its unchanging characteristics. One of its most prominent features is the variety of flowers arranged in a vase against a neutral background. This rich variety, an impossibility of nature due to the difference in flowering season, was a truly artificial composition. The asthetic quality clearly took precedence over any conformity to biological accuracy. Each flower was studied during its growing season and the sketches served as a pictorial memory.
One of the most well known 17th Century masters within this genre is Jan van Huysum (1682-1749). His work was widely admired and his influence on the theme was far-reaching. It is his work that mostly inspired the artist of the present lot. Arnoldus Bloemers was born in Amsterdam in 1792 and studied at the Academy of Amsterdam under Antoine Piera. This painting fits seamlessly in the Dutch tradition of flower painting. A terracotta vase filled with flowers from all seasons has been placed on a marble ledge against a neutral background. This rich still life has an engaging composition which is characterized by the tension between the warm and subtle earth tones and the vibrant and striking blues, pinks and reds. The play of light, fading some elements to the back and highlighting others in the foreground, combined with the almost tangible quality of the flowers are a testament to the great skill of this master of the 19th Century Still life.