Jan Brueghel the Younger was part of an artistic dynasty that transformed Flemish landscape, genre, and still-life painting. Jan the Younger took over his father Jan the Elder’s studio in 1625 and learned from his practice of animating floral arrangements with insects and fallen blossoms. The butterfly perched atop the basket here adds further liveliness to the composition and may have symbolic associations with the soul and resurrection.
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Title:A Basket of Flowers
Artist:Jan Brueghel the Younger (Flemish, Antwerp 1601–1678 Antwerp)
Medium:Oil on wood
Dimensions:18 1/2 x 26 7/8 in. (47 x 68.3 cm)
Credit Line:Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876-1967), 1967
Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York (by 1950–d. 1967)
Hartford, Conn. Wadsworth Atheneum. "The Adelaide Milton de Groot Loan Collection," 1950, no catalogue?
Hartford, Conn. Wadsworth Atheneum. "Flowers: Variations on a Theme," May 13–June 7, 1953, no catalogue.
C. C. C[unningham]. "Flowers: Variations on a Theme." Wadsworth Atheneum Bulletin, 2nd ser., no. 41 (May–September 1953), p. 1, ill.
Klaus Ertz. Jan Brueghel der Ältere (1568–1625): die Gemälde mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog. Cologne, 1979, p. 289, fig. 362.
Everett Fahy. Metropolitan Flowers. New York, 1982, pp. 100–101, ill. (color).
Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, pp. 23–24; vol. 2, colorpl. III, pl. 13, as by Jan Brueghel the Younger, observing that this "is probably the correct attribution," and that the execution on the whole, while clearly not by Jan the Elder, is close to that of Jan the Younger.
Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke inFlemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, pp. 302–3, no. 98, ill. (color).
Old Master Pictures. Christie's, Amsterdam. May 11, 1994, p. 103, under no. 170.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 289, ill., as "A Basket of Flowers".
Alte Meister. Dorotheum, Vienna. March 4, 1997, unpaginated, under no. 145.
Old Master Paintings and Sculpture. Christie's, New York. April 19, 2018, p. 12, under no. 104.
Old Masters. Christie's, New York. October 30, 2018, unpaginated, fig. 2 (color), under no. 21.
Old Master Paintings, Part I. Dorotheum, Vienna. April 24, 2018, p. 66, under no. 30, notes that Ertz calls it an example of collaboration between Jan Brueghel the Elder and Younger from about 1620.
Old Masters Evening Sale. Sotheby's, London. July 4, 2018, p. 162, under no. 30.
Old Master Paintings and Sculpture. Christie's, New York. October 29, 2019, unpaginated, under no. 734, confuses it with a work sold at Dorotheum, Vienna, April 24, 2018, no. 30.
The picture has been cradled.
The subject comes very close to a few examples of this motif in paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder; Ertz (1979) has been unable to find any work certainly by Jan the Elder that represents such a basket of flowers alone. A very similar motif occurs in Jan the Elder's Allegory of Smell (Prado, Madrid) of which Jan the Younger made at least one copy. Related baskets of flowers are found in a painting by Jan the Elder, of 1617, and especially in one from 1615, both of which include a small basket of flowers to the right (see Liedtke 1984).
A version of the MMA work was sold at Christie's, Amsterdam, on May 11, 1994, lot no. 170, as by Jan the Younger.
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Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, Antwerp 1599–1641 London)
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