In this series, Lagniappe presents a different work each week from the collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art, with commentary from a curator.
Jan Brueghel the Younger came from a celebrated family of Flemish Baroque painters. He studied painting with his father and in Rome, and eventually, at age 24, he took over managing his father’s successful studio.
His grandfather Pieter Breughel (1525-1569) is known for his detailed and humorous scenes of peasant life and proverbs. His father, Jan Breughel the Elder (1558-1625), specialized in lush landscapes and court scenes. Jan the Elder popularized floral arrangements as still lifes at a time when specialization within the art market was just developing.
Fresh flowers serve as a memento mori, a reminder of the transience of earthly pursuits. This subtle symbol was popular in the Protestant north of Europe as a gentle nudge toward good behavior. Flower paintings were sought out for private collectors as a means of extending the pleasure of an ephemeral bloom.
"Summer Flowers in a Wanli Kraak Porcelain Bowl" includes an assortment of blooms arrayed in an imported dish, an indication of the Netherlandish interest in botany and world trade. Grapes drape over the rim of the blue-and-white painted Chinese export ware, while long-stemmed purple and yellow stems spring from the bowl. Breughel further enlivens the scene with a carefully placed ladybug and grasshopper, a treat for careful observers.