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Title Still Life of Fruit and Flowers Set in a Landscape
Collection Fairfax House, York
Artist Attributed to school of Morel, Jan Evert (Dutch painter, 1777-1808)
Date Earliest about 1800
Date Latest about 1808
Description In this image, tulips are depicted together with other flowers and fruit. A half-peeled lemon, with red and green grapes, plums, cherries, a fig, an orange, peaches and a melon, are painted with a vase holding roses, tulips, carnations, daisies and an ear of corn, on which sits a Red Admiral butterfly. In the background is shown a landscape. This image of plenty doubles as an image of nature's bounty and a reminder of the inevitability of death (Vanitas). The short-lived flowers, fruit (already spoiling in Morel's painting) and insects emphasise the transience of existence.
Current Accession Number NT1984/014
Subject still life (fruit, flowers, Vanitas)
Measurements 50.0 x 60 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Noel Terry 1984.
Publications Brown, Peter, The Noel Terry Collection of Furniture and Clocks, York, 1987, p. 139, fig. 155.
Notes In Dutch Flower Painting 1600-1720 (1995), Paul Taylor offers a summary of the meanings of flower pictures. His commentary also sheds light on those paintings that combined images of fruit and flowers, such as Morel's. Flowers were rich in association in Golden Age Dutch culture, and it would be misleading to suggest that their only connotation was one of opulence. They could also act as reminders of the inevitability of death, or as bearers of Divine messages. They could evoke the Horatian ideal of the Happy Man, contented with his lot and cultivating true honesty in the bosom of Nature. They were, in short, complex historical objects. But amongst their connotations were found luxury, surfeit and morally dubious superfluity. Tulips were regarded with particular ambivalence. Varieties of garden flower like the tulip are now so common that it is easy to suppose they must be indigenous. They are not, however; the tulip, with many other varieties of flower, was introduced into Western Europe in the second half of the sixteenth century. Very large amounts were paid for tulips in the decades leading up to the 1630s; in an emblem book of 1614, two tulips are shown with the motto, ‘A fool and his money are soon parted'. In the tulipomania of 1636 and 1637, this proverb was especially apposite. The pinnacle of desirability was a white tulip flamed (striped) in red and the emperor of tulips, the ‘Semper Augustus', was deemed the finest example of this kind. At the height of the tulipomania, one of these extremely rare bulbs was valued at 13,000 guilders. To give an idea of the size of this sum to contemporaries, it is useful to note that one man, in an anti-tulip pamphlet of 1636, worked out that with 2,500 guilders one could, at that time, buy 27 tons of wheat, 50 tons of rye, four fat oxen, eight fat pigs, twelve fat sheep, two hogsheads of wine, four tuns of beer, two tons of butter, three tons of cheese, a bed with linen, a wardrobe of clothes and a silver beaker (Taylor, 1995).
Rights Owner Fairfax House, York
Author Dr Ruth Stewart




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