Abraham Brueghel was the most talented and successful son of Jan Brueghel the Younger. He was trained by his father, who already sold a small flower painting by his son when Abraham was fifteen years old. Not long afterwards, Abraham travelled to Italy, as was the custom for many young aspiring artists to complete their training and gain invaluable experience before returning home. However, Brueghel never returned to Flanders. He settled in Rome where he quickly established a reputation for his still lifes. Already, in 1649, an inventory of his patron, Prince Antonio Ruffo, records nine flower paintings by the eighteen year old artist. His pictures clearly reveal the influence of his Italian contemporaries such as Michelangelo Campidoglio and Michelangelo Cerquozzi yet at the same time maintain the firmness of composition and clarity of detail associated with his Northern heritage.
At some time in the 1670s Brueghel moved to Naples. Owing to the paucity of dated pictures by the artist (there are supposedly none from his Neapolitan period), it has proven difficult to trace his artistic development. Generally it would appear that his brushstroke was slightly more painterly during his Roman period, while his colouring became brighter and stronger during his later years. The present picture has been dated to the second half of the 1670s by Fred Meijer, who notes that the crispness of detail, the smooth handling and the strength of colour are all characteristic of his later style.
We are grateful to Mr Fred Meijer of the RKD for his help in cataloguing the present lot.