Oil on wood, 44 x 60 cm (approx. 18” x 24”)
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
READ: Adapted from the National Museum of Women in the Arts):
- Rachel Ruysch was successful for nearly 70 years as a specialist in flower paintings.
- Ruysch's maternal grandfather, Pieter Post, was an important architect,and her father, Frederik Ruysch, an eminent scientist. From him, she learned how to observe and record nature with great accuracy.
- At 15, she was apprenticed to the well-known Dutch flower painter Willem van Aelst. From that point on, she produced various kinds of still lifes, mainly flower pieces and woodland scenes.
- In 1701, Ruysch became a member of the painters' guild in The Hague. At that time, she began producing large flower works for an international circle of patrons. Several years later, Ruysch was invited to Düsseldorf to serve as court painter to Johann Wilhelm, the Elector Palatine of Bavaria. She remained there from 1708 until the prince's death in 1716.
- After returning to Holland, Ruysch kept painting fruit and flower pictures for a prominent clientele. She remained artistically active, proudly inscribing her age on a canvas she completed in 1747, at age 83.
- Despite the changes in popularity of flower paintings during the years since her death, Ruysch's reputation has never waned.
LOOK AT THIS PAINTING CLOSELY AND READ ABOUT IT'S COMPOSITION (make sure to click on the photo to see it in full)
WATCH BOTH VIDEOS:
- What were the circumstances of Ruysch's formal training in careful observation? How was this level of observation beneficial to her work?
- Look carefully at the composition of BOTH "Still Life with Fruit and Insects" (above) AND "Roses, Convolvulus, Poppies and Other Flowers in an Urn on a Stone Ledge" (from the linked article). What is similar AND different between the two? As a viewer, do you have a preference? (think about this as you consider your own compositions and how the viewers will experience your work)
- What is a "vanitas" painting? According to art scholars, are Ruysch's paintings considered "vanitas?" Explain.
- Read through the vocabulary list you were given. Define the terms that you already know AND those that have been mentioned in AS #1 and #2 (write in your own words/leave the unknown words alone for now).
For more information, a review of Dutch still lifes and vanitas in general, and the definition of the word, "pronk," watch this!