Still Life with Flowers, a Snail, and Insects, 1589
Joris Hoefnagel (Netherlandish, 1542–1601)
Watercolor, gouache, and shell gold on vellum; 4 5/8 x 3 11/16 in. (11.7 x 9.3 cm)
Purchase, Annette de la Renta, Jean A. Bonna, and Charles and Jessie Price Gifts and The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 2008 (2008.110)
Dated 1589, this drawing is among the first known independent still lifes by a Netherlandish artist. It was made during Hoefnagel's years of activity in Munich, where his accomplishments as a miniature painter (which belies the fact that he never received any formal education as an artist) gained him an appointment at the ducal court. As ascertained by the dedication, it also is a touching monument to his love for his mother (amoris monumentum matri charissimae) and may have been presented to her on her seventieth birthday. Hoefnagel's miniatures are known for their painstaking execution and subtlety of observation. By combining the appearance of a sheet of studies after nature with the learned emblematic tradition of the Renaissance, Hoefnagel exerted a lasting influence on one of the most innovative genres of Dutch seventeenth-century art—still-life painting.