Art/ Collection/ Art Object

A Vase of Flowers

Margareta Haverman (Dutch, active by 1716–died 1722 or later)
Oil on wood
31 1/4 x 23 3/4 in. (79.4 x 60.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, 1871
Accession Number:
Not on view
Several female artists of the Netherlands specialized in flower pictures, the best known being Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750). Despite his secretive nature, Jan van Huysum accepted Haverman as his pupil in Amsterdam. The only other known work by Haverman is a signed but undated flower piece in Copenhagen.
This panel is one of only two indisputable works by Haverman known to survive, and the only one to bear a date. The other picture, Flowers in a Glass Vase (Fredensborg Castle, Denmark), appears to have been painted a little earlier, to judge from comparisons with works by Haverman's teacher, Jan van Huysum.

In the New York painting, a tall bouquet of flowers fills a gray stone niche. The footed pot, evidently of terra-cotta, is cast in high relief, with the back of a putto seen in the center, and the leonine head of a man (crowned by a bumblebee) extending to the right. A peach and bunches of green and purple grapes rest on the stone ledge or pedestal, their surfaces covered with moisture and explored by a couple of ants. Flowers of many kinds are gathered around the slightly curved ascent of pink and white blooms in the center of the composition. They include roses, carnations, hollyhocks, irises, marigolds, passionflowers, primulas, poppies, and tulips (the striped one at top center features waterdrops, a moth, and a fly). A butterfly is perched on a leaf to the right, and a snail makes its way up the large leaf at lower left, which is a showpiece of fragile topography, with waterdrops and small areas of discoloration adding to the visual interest. On the whole, the still life is masterful in design and description, but a bit stale and uniform in execution when compared with similar works by Van Huysum. His suggestions of volume, light, and atmosphere are not quite equaled here, although Haverman (who was probably in her twenties at the time) comes impressively close. Similarly, her handling of precise detail is extraordinary rather than astonishing, and somewhat dry. The bluish color of some leaves, which makes an artificial impression, was probably toned down originally by yellow lake, now faded.

In sales of 1869 and earlier, this painting was accompanied by an unsigned pendant of similar design, but with a bird's nest.

[2016; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): .Margareta. Haverman fecit. / A 1716
Louis Fould, Paris (until 1860; his estate sale, Pillet and Laneuville, Paris, June 4ff., 1860, no. 5, with no. 6 for Fr 2,600); Édouard Fould (1860–69; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 5, 1869, no. 7, for Fr 2,100); [Léon Gauchez, Paris, with Alexis Febvre, Paris, until 1870; sold to Blodgett]; William T. Blodgett, Paris and New York (1870–71; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett, New York, and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1871; sold to MMA)
Nantucket. Kenneth Taylor Galleries. "Realism," June 26–July 31, 1949, no catalogue?

Wilmington. Delaware Art Center. "Paintings by Dutch Masters of the Seventeenth Century," May 6–June 17, 1951, no. 15.

Palm Beach. Society of the Four Arts. "Flower Paintings," March 7–30, 1952, no catalogue?

Hempstead, N. Y. Hofstra College. "Metropolitan Museum Masterpieces," June 26–September 1, 1952, no. 18.

New York. Union League Club. "Exhibition from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 23, 1969–January 2, 1970, checklist no. 8.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Eighteenth-Century Woman," December 12, 1981–September 5, 1982, unnumbered cat. (p. 51).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.

Louis Decamps. "Un musée transatlantique (2e article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 5 (May 1872), p. 437.

[Henry James]. "Art: The Dutch and Flemish Pictures in New York." Atlantic Monthly 29 (June 1872), p. 763 [reprinted in John L. Sweeney, ed., "The Painter's Eye," London, 1956, p. 65].

Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 16, Leipzig, 1923, p. 162, mentions it as one of three known works by Haverman.

Ralph Warner. Dutch and Flemish Flower and Fruit Painters of the XVIIth and XVIIIth Centuries. London, 1928, p. 88, pl. 39a, tentatively suggests the date to be 1756.

Margaretta Salinger. "Early Flower Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8 (May 1950), pp. 259–60, ill. p. 256, identifies the flowers depicted, and finds the "bluish unifying tone" to be "artificial though very handsome".

Peter Mitchell. Great Flower Painters: Four Centuries of Floral Art. Woodstock, N.Y., 1973, p. 129, fig. 174, as "the best-known example of this rare artist".

Karen Petersen and J.J. Wilson. Women Artists: Recognition and Reappraisal from the Early Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. New York, 1976, p. 56, fig. IV, 24, repeats the "jealous" Van Huysum topos as fact, and imagines that the artist was "much maligned".

Ann Sutherland Harris and Linda Nochlin in Women Artists: 1550–1950. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. New York, 1976, p. 36, fig. 11, considers the work to demonstrate that Haverman had by 1716 mastered Van Huysum's technique and did not need to deceive the French academy by submitting one of his works as her own.

Ingvar Bergström et al. Natura in posa: la grande stagione della natura morta europea. Milan, 1977, p. 192, ill.

Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 9, 17, 331, fig. 19 (color).

Peter C. Sutton. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 190.

Claus Grimm. Stilleben: die niederländischen und deutschen Meister. Stuttgart, 1988, p. 243, pl. XXXI.

Marianne Berardi in Dictionary of Women Artists. Ed. Delia Gaze. London, 1997, vol. 1, pp. 651–52, ill. p. 650, describes the composition, identifies the flowers, suggests that the metallic blue tone is a result of the removal of tinted spot varnishes, and discusses evidence for a pendant.

Els Kloek et al. Vrouwen en Kunst in de Republiek: een Overzicht. Hilversum, The Netherlands, 1998, p. 144.

Adriaan van der Willigen and Fred G. Meijer. A Dictionary of Dutch and Flemish Still-life Painters Working in Oils, 1525–1725. Leiden, 2003, p. 101.

Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 182, 210, 244–45, appendix 1A no. 112, ill., clarifies its provenance.

Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 7, 9, fig. 5 (color).

Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. xi, 308–10, no. 72, colorpl. 72.

Katharine Baetjer in Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Ed. Joseph Baillio and Xavier Salmon. Exh. cat., Grand Palais, Galeries nationales. Paris, 2015, p. 343 n. 41.

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