Jan Brueghel the Elder – Flowers in a vase
Jan Bruegel (1568 – 1625), one of the most important European painters of the eighteenth century is one of the members of a very talented family of Flemish artists. One can submit that there is a Bruegel artistic dynasty. The artists from Netherlands were like no others in copying the nature. Even the Italians were admitting the Netherlanders’ superiority in painting very precisely a flower, a tree, a haystack etc.
Jan Bruegel was nicknamed ‘Velvet Bruegel’ because he often painted heavenly landscapes or flower vases because he used pastel shades in his works and also for the very delicate approach of his brushstrokes and also for the velvet shining of the colours he used.
This painting is beautifully captured in the cultural background of Bruegel time. In the late sixteenth century there was a special concern for botany, in Netherlands were domesticated exotic plants, for example, the tulip: a delicate flower, recently brought from the Far East. This plant was fervently sold by the bargainers. The prices for some species of tulips were so high that the value for few bulbs was equal to a house cost.
The interest for this special and vulnerable beautiful plants leads to the emergence of the ‘Flower Language’ in the Victorian Age, a sort of code through which one could express his / her feelings towards a person from his / her social circle.
Jan Bruegel said about his painting: “I don’t believe that someone has ever painted so many rare and diversified flowers. During the winter, this painting should be a beautiful scene: some colours would be just like the natural ones” (a letter to Cardinal Federico Borromeo).
In ‘Flower in a Vase‘, a work of art that could be admired in the National Museum of Art of Romania, Jan Bruegel juxtaposes the flowers just like in an herbarium.
Cosmin Ungureanu, curator in the National Museum of Art of Romania, said about this painting: “The terracotta flower vase is very important. It is decorated with two cameos. In these cameos appear two deities: Amphitrite and Ceres. They symbolise the water and the earth. We could suppose that on the vase could also appear Apollo and Vulcan: the air and the fire. We are dealing with the four elements of pre-modern physics”.