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Title Still Life of an Upturned Flower Vase, 1651
Collection Fairfax House, York
Artist Morel, Jacob (German artist, 1614-1681)
Date 1651 (dated)
Signed yes
Description This painting falls in the category of ‘Vanitas', a form of still-life depiction particularly associated with the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic. Designed to alert the viewer to the transient nature of life, Vanitas paintings typically show fruit, flowers, and/or dead game, which although perfect are on the point of deteriorating and rotting away. This particular image shows a recently overturned glass vase, full of flowers. These include roses, irises, tulips, love-in-a-mist, heartsease and forget-me-not. A piece of broken glass can be seen to the left of the vase. A lizard looks on, while a snail makes its way to the flowers, a damsel fly rests on them, and a bee and a peacock butterfly hover over them. The same species of lizard appears in other Dutch paintings, for example by the artist Johannes Bosschaert (see Johnny van Haeften, Catalogue XIII, No. 3). The painting is inscribed with Marel's name within a painted scroll. In the background, the artist has painted a small crack on the wall plaster, showing that lessons on the fragility of existence should not only be drawn from glass, insects and flowers. In addition, the artist's selection of these flowers, particularly in view of their English names, which may be misleading, together with the broken vase, would suggest an underlying narrative of broken-heartedness. However, as with all Dutch flower painting, the temptation to read narratives into still life may be an important part of the painting's appeal, without signalling a clear intention on the part of the various artists to entertain the viewer with any particular narrative or moral.
Current Accession Number NT1984/011
Former Accession Number P7
Inscription front ur ‘An 1651 Jacob Marel f’
Subject still life (flowers, Vanitas); animal (lizard)
Measurements 38.0 x 50 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Noel Terry 1984.
Provenance Purchased by Noel Terry from Sheridan in 1930.
Publications Brown, Peter, The Noel Terry Collection of Furniture and Clocks, York, 1987, p. 132, fig. 136.
Notes A note on back of the painting reads as follows: ‘Jacob Marrel, also referred to as Morel, Murel and Marellus. Was a scholar under J. X. de Heem. Practiced at Utrecht & Frankfurt and had in his school such still life artists as Abraham Mignon and Maria Merian. Representative works at Amsterdam, Cassel, Darmstadt and Magdaburg but none in this country [n.b. this note was written in the 1920s/1930]. Painting is signed & dated on a scroll in the top right hand corner:- ‘An 1651 Jacob Marel f'. Size 20§ x 16§ of a vase of flowers overturned by a lizard.'
Rights Owner Fairfax House, York
Author Dr Ruth Stewart




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