Abraham Mignon, A Vase of Flowers

Gallery 57, Second Floor,
Dutch Still-Life Paintings


Focus on the Object

Composition and Subject

The painting features a glass vase standing on a stone sill. The vase contains tulips, poppies, roses, marigolds, morning glory, guelder rose, columbines, carnations, cow-parsley, brambles and wheat, with butterflies and insects appearing on the flowers and sill. The picture, however, is not just a painting of a vase of flowers, placed in front of the artist. Several of these plants could not have flowered in the same season and could not have been collected as they are shown here, but would have been studied when in season and then put together in the one composition.

It is a painting of contrasts: velvety petals sit alongside spiky plants; unfurling buds jostle with wilting heads; some look towards us with their full faces, others bow their heads so we only see their undersides.

Although the flowers are the dominant feature of the painting, other dimensions are added through the appearance of a snail crawling along the underside of the ledge and the reflection of rooftops, seen in the glass vase.