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Willem van Aelst, Flower Still Life with a Timepiece, 1663

Van Aelst’s flower still-lifes are different to those of his predecessors. Rather than painting symmetrical bouquets, he arranged them along a diagonal line. Moreover, he did not light them evenly, opting instead for strong contrasts of light and dark. This lends tension and dynamism to his bouquets.

This profuse flower painting was intended as a showpiece. The flowers stand in a costly silver vase, and a gold watch lies beside them. Van Aelst, who had lived in Italy, signed the work with his Italian name.

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