A Wreath of Flowers thumbnail 1
A Wreath of Flowers thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Silver, Room 69, The Whiteley Galleries

A Wreath of Flowers

Oil Painting
mid 18th century ? (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Daniel Seghers, (1590- 1661), was a Flemish painter and pupil of Jan Breughel the elder. Seghers entered the Jesuit Order as a lay brother in Mechelen in 1614. He is recorded as a painter at the Collège de Bruxelles in 1621, when he produced two large Garlands of Flowers for the cathedral of St Michel in Brussels. In 1625 he took his final vows as a Jesuit priest, and from then onwards he signed his pictures as Daniel Seghers Societatis Jesu. After his ordination, he went to Rome, where he spent two years. In 1627 he returned to Antwerp and remained there until his death, working as a flower painter at his monastery.
Bunches, garlands and wreaths of fruit and flowers such as this were generally associated with fertility and the realm of nature or with personified allegories such as Ceres or Abundantia. The Flemish artist Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625) was the first to associate such garlands with religious ideas in a commissioned painting: Madonna with Floral Wreath (Milan, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana). Such wreaths were often painted as foliate frames for landscape or devotional scenes at the centre but were also left empty. There is a discernable distinction between works of this genre in the Southern and those of the Northern Netherlands. In Antwerp (Belgium) the Brueghel tradition was perpetuated, its chief exponents being Jan Brueghel the Younger and Daniel Seghers. Seghers developed the genre of garland painting, combining garlands into wreath-like compositions encircling a central representation, thus creating the concept of the cartouche flower piece, followed by Jan Brueghel the Younger and others. This work has affinities flower pieces painted at the beginning of the eighteenth century by a group of painters, influenced by the French and Italian art of the time, working with impasto opaque paint in a broad, decorative style quite foreign to North Netherlandish art. The flowers represented here are ones which bloom in different periods of the year and are depicted in various stages of their life cycle- from closed buds to full blossoms. Each flower has a different spiritual symbolic meaning or association which, once recognised, adds another dimension to the work. Carnations, roses and lilies have long been associated with the Virgin for example while the sunflower signified believer’s devotion to the Catholic church. Equally, these varied, sometimes exotic and expensive flowers suggested the temporal nature of wealth and beautycomposition and execution of this work suggests a follower of Daniel Seghers working in the 18th century.


Object details
Category
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Oil
  • Frame
Materials and techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief description
Painting, oil on canvas, A Wreath of Flowers, the Netherlands, mid 18th century
Physical description
A wreath of flowers including tulips, lilies, carnations, jonquils, roses, forget-me-nots, primulas, daffodils, camellias, honeysuckle, hyacinths and a sunflower suspended from a brass ring with a bright blue ribbon.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 163.4cm
  • Estimate width: 67cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, C.M. Kauffmann, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973
Style
Object history
During the seventeenth century flowers became a popular subject for still life painting, while naturalistic flowers were also widely used in ornament. This painting was bought by the Museum in 1889 as one of a series circulated to schools for use in art classes. It was originally a different shape, having been painted as a piece of room decoration and fitted into a frame with curved sides.



Historical significance: Daniel Seghers, (1590- 1661), was a Flemish painter and pupil of Jan Breughel the elder. Seghers entered the Jesuit Order as a lay brother in Mechelen in 1614. He is recorded as a painter at the Collège de Bruxelles in 1621, when he produced two large Garlands of Flowers for the cathedral of St Michel in Brussels. In 1625 he took his final vows as a Jesuit priest, and from then onwards he signed his pictures as Daniel Seghers Societatis Jesu. After his ordination, he went to Rome, where he spent two years. In 1627 he returned to Antwerp and remained there until his death, working as a flower painter at his monastery.

Bunches, garlands and wreaths of fruit and flowers such as this were generally associated with fertility and the realm of nature or with personified allegories such as Ceres, Cybele, Agricultura or Abundantia. The Flemish artist Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625) was the first to associate such garlands with religious ideas in a commissioned painting: Madonna with Floral Wreath (Milan, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana). Such wreaths were often painted as foliate frames for landscape or devotional scenes at the center but were also left empty such as Jan Philipp Van Thielen’s ‘Floral Wreath’ (Bordeaux, Musée des Beaux-Arts). There is a discernable distinction between works of this genre in the Southern and those of the Northern Netherlands. In Antwerp (Belgium) the Brueghel tradition was perpetuated, its chief exponents beign Jan Brueghel the Younger and Daniel Seghers. Seghers developed the genre of garland painting, combining garlands into wreath-like compositions encircling a central representation, thus creating the concept of the cartouche flower piece, followed by Jan Brueghel the Younger and others. Like S.EX.1-1889, the formats of these were often large and usually painted on canvas. The V&A picture is painted in the rich colours of the South as opposed to the more subtle tonalities or near monochrome works of the North. A number of Antwerp artists, like Jan van Kessel and Nicolaes van Veerendael, painted in these colourful palettes in which less attention is given to light effects. Works such as S.EX.1-1889 containt the broader brushstrokes and more thickly applied paint favoured by these artists. This work has affinities flower pieces painted at the beginning of the eighteenth century by a group of painters, influenced by the French and Italian art of the time, working with impasto opaque paint in a broad, decorative style quite foreign to North Netherlandish art. The dominant blue ribbon however appears primarily in works by Jan Davidsz. De Heem and his followers such as his son Cornelis and Abraham Mignon. The flowers represented here are ones which bloom in different periods of the year and are depicted in various stages of their life cycle- from closed buds to full blossoms. Each flower has a different spiritual symbolic meaning or association which, once recognised, adds another dimension to the work. Carnations, roses and lilies have long been associated with the Virgin for example while the sunflower signified believer’s devotion to the Catholic church. Equally, these varied, sometimes exotic and expensive flowers suggested the temporal nature of wealth and beauty.

The composition and execution of this work suggests a follower of Daniel Seghers working in the 18th century.
Historical context
The term 'Still life' conventionally refers to works depicting an arrangement of diverse inanimate objects including fruits, flowers, shellfish, vessels and artefacts. The term derives from the Dutch 'stilleven', which became current from about 1650 as a collective name for this type of subject matter. Still-life reached the height of its popularity in Western Europe, especially in the Netherlands, during the 17th century although still-life subjects already existed in pre-Classical, times. As a genre, this style originates in the early 15th century in Flanders with Hugo van der Goes (ca.1440-1482), Hans Memling (ca.1435-1494) and Gerard David (ca.1460-1523) who included refined still-life details charged with symbolic meaning in their compositions in the same manner as illuminators from Ghent or Bruges did in their works for decorative purpose. In the Low Countries, the first types of still life to emerge were flower paintings and banquet tables by artists like Floris van Schooten (c.1585-after 1655). Soon, different traditions of still life with food items developed in Flanders and in the Netherlands where they became especially popular commodities in the new bourgeois art market. Dutch painters played a major role the development of this genre, inventing distinctive variations on the theme over the course of the century while Flemish artist Frans Snyders' established a taste for banquet pieces. These works were developed further in Antwerp by the Dutchman Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1684) who created opulent baroque confections of fruit, flowers, and precious vessels that became a standardized decorative type throughout Europe. Scholarly opinion had long been divided over how all of these images should be understood. The exotic fruits and valuable objects often depicted testify to the prosperous increase in wealth in cities such as Amsterdam and Haarlem but may also function as memento mori, or vanitas, that is, reminders of human mortality and invitations to meditate upon the passage of time.
Production
Acquired as 'van Huysum?' but catalogued as 'Dutch School' 18th century by Kauffmann in 1973.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Daniel Seghers, (1590- 1661), was a Flemish painter and pupil of Jan Breughel the elder. Seghers entered the Jesuit Order as a lay brother in Mechelen in 1614. He is recorded as a painter at the Collège de Bruxelles in 1621, when he produced two large Garlands of Flowers for the cathedral of St Michel in Brussels. In 1625 he took his final vows as a Jesuit priest, and from then onwards he signed his pictures as Daniel Seghers Societatis Jesu. After his ordination, he went to Rome, where he spent two years. In 1627 he returned to Antwerp and remained there until his death, working as a flower painter at his monastery.

Bunches, garlands and wreaths of fruit and flowers such as this were generally associated with fertility and the realm of nature or with personified allegories such as Ceres or Abundantia. The Flemish artist Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625) was the first to associate such garlands with religious ideas in a commissioned painting: Madonna with Floral Wreath (Milan, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana). Such wreaths were often painted as foliate frames for landscape or devotional scenes at the centre but were also left empty. There is a discernable distinction between works of this genre in the Southern and those of the Northern Netherlands. In Antwerp (Belgium) the Brueghel tradition was perpetuated, its chief exponents being Jan Brueghel the Younger and Daniel Seghers. Seghers developed the genre of garland painting, combining garlands into wreath-like compositions encircling a central representation, thus creating the concept of the cartouche flower piece, followed by Jan Brueghel the Younger and others. This work has affinities flower pieces painted at the beginning of the eighteenth century by a group of painters, influenced by the French and Italian art of the time, working with impasto opaque paint in a broad, decorative style quite foreign to North Netherlandish art. The flowers represented here are ones which bloom in different periods of the year and are depicted in various stages of their life cycle- from closed buds to full blossoms. Each flower has a different spiritual symbolic meaning or association which, once recognised, adds another dimension to the work. Carnations, roses and lilies have long been associated with the Virgin for example while the sunflower signified believer’s devotion to the Catholic church. Equally, these varied, sometimes exotic and expensive flowers suggested the temporal nature of wealth and beautycomposition and execution of this work suggests a follower of Daniel Seghers working in the 18th century.
Bibliographic references
  • Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 99, cat. no. 111
  • A Catalogue of the National Gallery of British Art at South Kensington with a supplement containing works by modern foreign artists and Old Masters, 2 vols., 1893, p. 180.
Collection
Accession number
S.EX.1-1889

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Record createdJune 28, 2005
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