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Monday, December 26, 2011

Offering of the Day: A Charming Botanical Still Life by a great Dutch Master

Herman Henstenburgh (1667-1726)
A Charming Bouquet
Watercolor and gouache on vellum
11 x 14 inches
Framed: 16 x 19 inches
Signed and dated lower right: H. Henstenburgh fecit… 1700

                This engaging and finely rendered botanical watercolor is a significant piece by one of the finest Dutch flower painters, Herman Henstenburgh.  A remarkably naturalistic work, it is in the best tradition of Dutch flower painting, replete with trompe l'oeil effects and startlingly realistic details.  The rich palate combines with the profusion of flowers -- tulips, morning glories, and others -- to create a compelling image of warmth and bounty.  The contemporary chronicler Johan van Gool attempted to explain the extraordinary richness of Henstenburgh's colors by asserting that the artist had invented a new type of watercolor, but in truth the artist simply achieved a level of mastery in the medium that was matched by very few of his contemporaries.

                Henstenburgh was a pupil of Johannes Bronckhorst, a fellow native of Hoorn in the Netherlands.  According to contemporary accounts, Henstenburgh started out by depicting birds and landscapes, in the manner of his teacher, and then broadened his repertoire to include splendid flower and fruit pieces, and occasional woodland still-lifes.  For his flawless draftsmanship and vibrant colors, Henstenburgh won considerable renown even during his own lifetime.

                Dated works by Henstenburgh are extremely rare, and the date on this piece is of particular significance, coming as it does at midpoint in the artist's career, when he devoted increasing attention to botanical painting.  This important and finely rendered still-life is a rare and significant piece by one of the finest Dutch flower painters.

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