Good for a girl: Rachel Ruyschs' Still Life with Flowers on a Marble Tabletop
In the early 16th century the Netherlands experienced what was called "tulip mania" this was the beginning of the nations love for flora and foliage (Taylor 13). The result of this impressive flower invasion was a society that took a historical turn from which the results still remain today. Flower merchants, botanists and floral still life artists, were occupations that were an accurate reflection of the Netherlands demands (Brown). An interesting example of a life that was effected by, and devoted to the archiving of the flower craze was Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750) the 17th century Dutch flower painter. Rachel Ruyschs' career straddled the 17th and 18th century, and her stunningly accurate floral pieces reflect the maturing, yet evolving art of floral still life painting ("Rachel Ruysch: Bibliography"). Ruyschs' Still Life with Flowers on a Marble Tabletop (1716) is an excellent example of a painting that appropriately represents the genre of art that was created solely through specific societal events. The rampant speculation during the flower craze, eventually led the Netherlands to a stock market crash in 1637(Taylor 40). The events leading up to and following "tulip mania" were embedded in history, and archived in paintings. Ruychs career did not begin until well after the crash; however floral artists continued right through the crash and well on to the next century ("Rachel Ruysch: Bibliography"). Flowers continued to be an extremely popular subject matter in painting. What is unique about the work of Rachel Ruysch, and in particular Still Life with Flowers on a Marble Tabletop, is that they were created at the turn of the century and at a point when floral still life was evolving (Taylor 45) . Early flower paintings tended to have static symmetrical compositions like the works of Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573-1621), but flourished into more lively expressions when artists like...
Because Rachel Ruysch had the example of her father, a flower craze that set her artistic ability ablaze coupled with a female sensibility, her pieces remain to this day quite extraordinary. Still Life with Flowers on a Marble Tabletop is a true gem because it embodies all of Rusychs ' signature artistic characteristics and was created at the height of her career.
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