In the seventeenth century, Flemish artists frequently collaborated to produce paintings that combined history subjects with flower still lifes. Daniel Seghers specialised almost exclusively in paintings of this type and this panel, probably painted in the first half of the 1630s, is a beautiful example of his contribution to this genre. Indeed, Seghers was the first to paint garlands and flowers woven into stone cartouches, as they are in this panel. They were enormously popular and were perceived as a stimulus for religious contemplation and would be filled with different scenes from the life of Christ. Several artists including Rubens, Simon de Vos, Erasmus Quellinus and Cornelis Schut, as in the present picture, collaborated with Seghers for the central figurative scenes. The figural group, although executed on a different scale, can be compared to Schut’s The Virgin and Child with Saints Anne and the Infant John the Baptist (Hampel, Munich, 17 September 2010, lot 52).
Born in Antwerp, Seghers was taken to live in Utrecht after his father’s death. There his artistic training began, but in 1609 or 1610 he returned to Antwerp where he was a pupil of Jan Brueghel the Elder, before being accepted as an independent master in the local guild in 1611. Jan Brueghel is thought to have influenced his conversion to the Catholic faith. Seghers, having been raised as a Protestant in Utrecht, was admitted to the Jesuit Order in 1614, taking his final vows in 1625. Thereafter he was sent to the Jesuit Order in Rome, where he stayed until 1627 before returning to Antwerp. During his own lifetime he was already held in the highest regard for his flower painting and his popularity is attested to by the existence of the artist’s own inventory of 239 of his pictures (see W. Couvreur, ‘Daniel Seghers’ inventaris van door hem geschilderde bloemstukken’, in Gentse Bijdragen tot de Kunstgeschiedenis den de Oudheidkunde, XX, 1967, pp. 87-158).
We are grateful to Fred Meijer of the RKD, The Hague, for confirming the attribution, on the basis of photographs.