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Still Life of Flowers, Fruit, Shells, and Insects

Balthasar van der Ast

About 1629

Still-life paintings are an important and much-admired type in seventeenth-century Dutch art. Van der Ast is considered a master of the “combined” still life composition; he had an exceptional ability to join flowers, fruit, and exotic shells into one powerful image. Although the placement of elements appears casual, it is instead highly deliberate. This painting is richly filled with meticulously rendered objects that have an almost palpable quality, demonstrating van der Ast’s interest in the virtuoso effects of his craft. The painting might also hold an underlying message regarding the transience of earthly existence, as seen in the slowly withering flowers and grape leaves. The artist’s signature can be found in the lower left corner.

  • Titles Still Life of Flowers, Fruit, Shells, and Insects (Proper)
  • Artist Balthasar van der Ast, Dutch, Middelburg 1593/1594 - 1657 Delft
  • Medium oil on panel
  • Dimensions 17 1/8 × 29 1/4 in. (43.5 × 74.3 cm) frame: 25 × 37 × 3 in. (63.5 × 94 × 7.6 cm)
  • Credit Line Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Purchase with additional funds provided by an Anonymous Gift, Mrs. Peter G. Smith, The Illges-Chenoweth Foundation in honor of Barbara Derr Chenoweth and in memory of Arthur Illges Chenoweth, Mr. and Mrs. Victor H. Hanson II, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas N. Carruthers, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. James A. Livingston, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. James S. Snow, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Daniel H Markstein III, Edgar B. Marx, Jr., Dr. and Mrs. Jack Geer, Henry E. Simpson, and James E. Simpson, AFI.3.2002
  • Work Type painting
  • Classification Paintings
  • On View