A garland of flowers

JAN VAN KESSEL (1626-1679)

A garland of flowers

1626 to 1679 Belgium

Offered by P & D Colnaghi & Co Ltd

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Jan van Kessel was born in Antwerp in the spring of 1626 to the portrait painter Hiëronymous van Kessel and Paschasia Brueghel, daughter of his father’s collaborator Jan Brueghel the Elder. He trained as a flower painter during the 1630s and 1640s and, although he was apprenticed to Simon de Vos in 1634-35, the style of his painting has led many to believe that he must also have trained in the studio of his uncle, Jan Brueghel the Younger. Around 1644-45 van Kessel was registered as a Blomschilder in the books of the Guild of St. Luke. He was a very versatile and highly original painter who produced floral bouquets and fruit still lifes as well as animal paintings together with cartoons for tapestries, in particular the flower borders.

As our work shows, van Kessel painted mainly in the style of his predecessors, particularly Jan Brueghel the Elder. His early flower pieces are characterized by a dark grey, almost black background, against which bright, exotic and cultivated flowers are painted with well-defined contours. His compositions are symmetrical and have a monumental feel, qualities that reveal the influence of his contemporary Daniel Seghers (1590-1661). It was also common for van Kessel to paint a garland or wreath of flowers surrounding figures demonstrating further influences from Seghers, (see Garland with the Infant Christ and St John the Baptist, Prado, Madrid). The Colnaghi picture is composed of a circular garland of flowers – tulips, white and pink roses, blue columbine, iris, cherry blossom, ivy, forget-me-not and peonies – with small insects and butterflies, painted on a sculptured stone cartouche. (For a comparable work see F. G Meier, Dutch and Flemish Still Life Paintings, 2003, colour pl. 54). A common characteristic of van Kessel’s style was to edge his rose petals with a firm white line where the light catches, demonstrating his exquisite attention to detail.

Acquired by the father of the present owner in the 1960s.
Height 64.40 cm (25.35 inches)
Width 48.30 cm (19.02 inches)
Oil on panel
Signed lower left: J. V. Kessel fecit. Stamped with the Antwerp brand mark on the reverse
P & D Colnaghi & Co Ltd

P & D Colnaghi & Co Ltd
15 Old Bond Street

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