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Oil painting - Flowers in a Vase

Flowers in a Vase

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    1849 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Margry, Antoine (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Elizabeth South

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room WS, case R, shelf 35, box L

Antoine Margry (first half of 19th century) was a flower painter but little is known about his life and artistic training. He exhibited at the Salon between 1831 and 1847.

This painting is a fine example of flowers composition in the style of 17th-century Netherlandish still-lifes. The influence of Netherlandish art, especially from the Golden Age period, spread in Western art during the 19th century and involved different categories of paintings from genre scenes to marine and landscape paintings. This revival probably results from the free and broad painterly technique of these paintings as well as a new interest in direct observation of nature which they pioneered two centuries ago.

Physical description

Roses, peonies, lilacs, chrysanthemums, bluebells and morning glories arranged in a urn-shaped vase standing on a parapet; neutral dark background

Place of Origin

France (made)


1849 (painted)


Margry, Antoine (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'A Margry 1849'
Signed and dated by the artist, lower right


Height: 17.5 cm approx., Width: 14.6 cm approx.

Object history note

Given by Mrs Elizabeth South, 1908

Historical significance: This painting is a good example of Margry's still-lifes, a category in which he specialised almost exclusively. It shows a bouquet of flowers arranged in a Neoclassical vase, standing on the edge of a parapet. The artist made a selection of spring flowers: roses, peonies, lilac, chrysanthemum, bluebell and morning glories. This selection allowed the artist to represent different textures and colours contrasted and yet enhanced by the aspect of steel on the vase and the stone parapet.
Although the most authoritative flower painter during the 19th century was Henri Fantin-Latour, this painting shows a different inspiration and draws upon the Netherlandish tradition of still-life, which came to a climax in the 17th century. Revival of the 17th-century imagery was not rare in the 19th century and involved different categories such as marine, landscape and genre paintings.
A comparable composition recently appeared on the art market at Baron Ribeyre & Associés, Paris, 30 Nov, 2007, lot 218 (signed and dated 1841).
Flower paintings and still-life in general belong however to the new interest for naturalism and the objective rendering of light and colours developed in landscape paintings by the school of Barbizon, Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), with whom Fantin-Latour worked for some time, and later the Impressionists. Fantin-Latour though did not share their enthusiasm for open air painting and most of his compositions were executed in his studio.

Historical context note

19th-century French art is marked by a succession of movements based on a more or less close relationship with nature. At the beginning of the century, Romantic artists were fascinated by nature they interpreted as a mirror of the mind. They investigated human nature and personality, the folk culture, the national and ethnic origins, the medieval era, the exotic, the remote, the mysterious and the occult. This movement was heralded in France by such painter as Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). In its opposition to academic art and its demand for a modern style Realism continued the aims of the Romantics. They assumed that reality could be perceived without distortion or idealization, and sought after a mean to combine the perception of the individual with objectivity. This reaction in French painting against the Grand Manner is well represented by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) who wrote a 'Manifesto of Realism', entitled Le Réalisme published in Paris in 1855. These ideas were challenged by the group of the Barbizon painters, who formed a recognizable school from the early 1830s to the 1870s and developed a free, broad and rough technique. They were mainly concerned by landscape painting and the rendering of light. The works of Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña (1807-1876), Jules Dupré (1811-1889), Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867), Constant Troyon (1810-1865) and Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) anticipate somehow the plein-air landscapes of the Impressionists.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Flowers in a Vase', Antoine Margry, 1849

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 69, cat. no. 152.


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Peonies; Roses; Lilac; Vase; Morning glory; Parapet; Still life; Bluebell




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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