Nicolaes van Verendael was a flower still life specialist who worked his whole life in Antwerp in the 2nd half of the 17th century in a very meticulous way. During the 19th and early 20th century some of his garland paintings were cut apart: each fragment, such as ours, could then be sold separately as an individual work of art.
About Nicolaes van Verendael
Antwerp 1640 – 1691 Antwerp
Still life painter, especially of flowers. He also painted a few comical monkey scenes, so-called singeries, with monkeys dressing and behaving like humans.
His last name is sometimes spelt van Veerendael.
Inscribed at the age of 16, in the year 1656/57, at the Painters’ Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp as a pupil with Willem van Verendael, who must either have been his father or possibly his uncle. He was much influenced by the flower painter Daniel Seghers in his early years and later by Jan Davidsz. de Heem from 1672 onwards. De Heem lived again in Antwerp from 1672 until his death in 1684.
Van Verendael was a contemporary of Philippe van Thielen and of Jan van Kessel.
Van Veerendael never left his birthplace; he remained active in Antwerp during his complete career.
He married in 1669 Catharina, the 17-year old daughter of Mathys van Beveren, a sculptor and engraver of the imperial coins. The couple had eleven children, but almost all of them died at a very young age. The last child was born after Nicolaes’ death.
Our painter was very successful, especially in his early years, but he never knew financial prosperity. Occasionally he worked together with Hendrick Andriessen, Carstian Luyckx, David Teniers II, Gonzales Coques, Erasmus Quellinus II, Jan Boeckhorst and Jan Davidsz. de Heem.
But according to the biographer Jacob Campo Weyerman (1677 – 1747) he had the reputation of being a slow painter (1729, Vol. III, P. 234-236): Weyerman tells how van Verendael needed four days of painting to finish a single carnation.
About our painting
Weyerman, when describing the painstaking slow technique of our painter, refers indeed to the extraordinary realism and finish of his flowers. Typical of van Verendael are the strong, contrasting colours.
He regularly painted flower garlands around a sculptured religious central motif. He arranged his flowers in groups, rather than in a single circle. During the 19th and early 20th century some of van Verendael’s garlands were cut apart and sold as 4 or 6 individual compositions. Each group could pass for an independent, well-balanced design. Our painting is also a fragment of a larger composition; one can still vaguely see parts of the grey, architectural sculpted background.
Though not being a botanist I have tried to identify the most important flowers in our composition. The three roses in the lower centre are the whitish Rosa x Alba, underneath it the pink Rosa x Centifolica (Provence Rose) and at the bottom right the Provins Rose. Above that one the easily recognizable carnation (Dianthus Caryophyllus), while on the left side of the bouquet the faded orange Canendula Offincinalis.
Roses would stand for Christian love, the green leaves of the ivy for immortality.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because although being a fragment, it is a very colourful and very detailed still life, that could pass for an independant painting, by an important Flemish still life painter from Antwerp from the 2nd half of the 17th century.