The painting depicts a big vase of flowers in the foreground that covers the entire space of the painting.
The composition of flowers rests on the marble table and stands out against the dark background that brings out the many varieties of colorful flowers in the vase. At the bottom there are a few fallen flowers, a dragonfly and a butterfly with black and red wings sitting on a leaf as well as a gold pedant with precious stones, two coins and shells.
Many types of flowers, such as tulips, irises, roses, carnations, bluebells, wild flowers, dahlias and lilies are portrayed with great naturalism and attention on the different shapes and colors that perfectly reflect the original ones.
The rendering is faithful to the natural details and its juxtaposition with the preciousness of the jewel and the shape and the color of the rare shell as well as the coins symbolizing wealth that make this little copper painting precious, and it is a perfect example of the subject popular in Flanders, loved by the Flemish painter. In fact, Jan Brueghel was well known for his ability to paint flowers, fruit and plants and for this he was also known as Jan of Flowers.
According to a legend, Brueghel had painted these rare and expensive flowers to a poor woman who could not afford to buy them. However, the correspondence between the artist and Milanese cardinal Federico Borromeo, his patron and protector, indicates that the execution of the work began in January 1606 and the artist chose to depict these flowers because he found them beautiful and rare. The painter also reminded the cardinal that he had seen these plants at the court of Archduke Albert and his wife Isabella in Brussels, where he served as a painter.
This elaborate still life is a genre particularly loved by Borromeo, who saw the divine reflection in the beauty of plants, flowers, fruit and animals and it belonged to cardinal’s collection, which was donated in 1618 to the Milanese religious institution he founded.
Francesco Raibolini, also known as Francia, Italian painter, goldsmith and medalist, was born in Bologna in 1450.
He trained as goldsmith and in 1483 he became head of Corporazione Bolognese, a highly appreciated nomination that the artist covered several times, in 1489, 1506, 1508 and 1512.
The Bentivoglio Family appointed him the task of making molds for the coins in the city workshop, a task that was confirmed by Pope Julius II.
Before he became a well-known painter, Francia was a goldsmith, much sought after to make marks and seals, silver ornaments and “nielli” (precious objects completed with black enamel). Nowadays two niello-worked plates are preserved at the Accademia di Bologna.
The painter-goldsmith died in Bologna on 5 January 1517, leaving numerous works in museums around the world, including the Crucifixion (Bologna, Civic Museum), the Nativity (Liverpool, Corporation Gallery), Santo Stefano (Rome, Galleria Borghese), the Sacred Family (Berlin), The Felicini Altarpiece (Bologna, Pinacoteca), the Portrait of a Nobleman (London, National Gallery) and the frescoes with the Stories of St. Cecilia in Bologna.
Collection of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts in the former home of a Venetian family.