VASE OF FLOWERS – Jan Brueghel the Elder 1590 ca.
Executed with the same technique – although, due to the different dimensions, not pendants – these paintings, datable to the last decade of the 16th century, should be considered together because of the evident similarities in the way the still life are represented. Although the flowers form a fairly voluminous mass, they are, in both cases, contained in a glass vase with a spherical form on which the light, coming from the left, is reflected. In both works, flowers and petals are strewn over the table top on which the vase stands, while a butterfly is only present in one of them. After visiting Colonia in 1589, Jean Bruegel the elder, son of the more famous Peter Bruegel the elder, went to Italy, where he stayed first in Naples, then in Rome where he arrived in 1590. Here he met Cardinal Borromeo, who became one of his most important patrons; in 1595, Jan Bruegel followed him to Milan, and kept in contact with him after returning to Antwerp the following year. The painting on the left may either come from the Aldobrandini bequest, the inventories Of which included Flemish works, or be part of the goods confiscated from the Cavalier d’Arpino in 1607. The inventory of the latter’s collection also compromised a picture with a carafe of flowers and other unfinished flowers, and it is known that the artist ‘s studio was important for the development of the still life, as well as for Caravaggio’s early career, when he often painted fruit and flowers. The reflection of the window on the surface of the vase was noted by in one of the pictures Caravaggio painted in Cavalier d’Arpino’s studio. The painting on the right is mentioned in the inventory of 1693 of the Borghese gallery.