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Abraham Bosschaert

A Still Life of Flowers laid on a Table

Abraham Bosschaert

Signed on the front edge of the table, lower right: ABosschaert
On panel, 10 x 12 ⅝ ins. (25.5 x 32 cm)



Sale, Sotheby’s, London, 16 March 1966, lot 60, where bought by
H. Terry-Engell Gallery, London, 1966
Gebr. Douwes, Amsterdam, 1967
Sale, Amsterdam (Paul Brandt), 20-23 May 1969, lot 3 (illustrated in colour)
Kunsthandel P. de Boer, Amsterdam, September 1986
Richard Green, London
P. Hoogendijk, Baarn, 1987
Private collection, the Netherlands, until 2014


Masters of Middelburg: exhibition in honour of Laurens J. Bol, exh. cat. by Sam Segal et. al., Kunsthandel K. & V. Waterman, B.V., Amsterdam, March 1984, p. 75, cat. no. 23 (illustrated)
E. Gemar-Koeltzsch, et. al., Hollandische Stillebenmaler im 17. Jahrhundert, Lingen, 1995, vol. I, p. 158, no. 50/1


London, Terry Engell Gallery, Winter Exhibition, 1966-67, no. II, illustrated
Delft, Oude Kunst en Antiekbeurs (Douwes), 1967, (illustrated in guide)
Delt, Oude Kunst en Antiekbeurs (Hoogendijk), 1986
Maastricht, Pictura Fine Art Fair (Hoogendijk), 1987, p. 156, (illustrated in colour)


This still life by Abraham Bosschaert depicts a few cut flowers lying casually on a wooden table.  They do not appear to be arranged in any formal sense, rather one gets the impression that they have just been freshly picked and brought indoors. A yellow iris, a red and white striped carnation and a yellow and red flamed tulip, together with a sprig of forget-me-nots, comprise this intimate floral display.  A caterpillar, a butterfly and two glistening drops of water enliven the image.  

Abraham Bosschaert belonged to a dynasty of flower painters.  His father, the celebrated flower painter Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573-1621), was one of the pioneers of floral still-life painting in the first decade of the seventeenth century.  His uncle Balthasar van der Ast (1593/4-1657) likewise became a specialist flower painter, as did his two older brothers Johannes (c. 1607-1628) and Ambrosius the Younger (1609-1645).  Abraham, who was only about eight-years-old when his father died, was very likely trained by his brothers and uncle.  He died at an early age, leaving only a small body of work.   

Like the other members of his family, Abraham devoted himself exclusively to still-life painting.  He mainly painted symmetrically arranged bouquets of flowers in a vase and occasionally representations of a few individual flowers laid on a ledge, such as the present work.  Both in style and composition Abraham’s still lifes closely resemble those of his older brother Ambrosius II, but as Bol pointed out (i), his ABosschaert signature may be distinguished from that of his brotherís because the A and B are linked from the top all the way down.  Also characteristic of Abraham are the strong heightening of the leaves in creamy-yellow paint and the way in which the free edge of the table appears on the right-hand side of the composition.   

Balthasar van der Ast can be credited with the creation of this type of modest still life.  Sometime between 1625 and 1630 he began to paint intimately conceived still lifes comprising a few sprays of flowers, shells, insects and small animals laid casually on a tabletop.  The occurrence of this form in the oeuvres of Abraham and Ambrosius II Bosschaert and Jacob Marrell (1613/14-1681) reflects the influence exerted by van der Ast on the other flower painters working in Utrecht.


There is very little documentary information about the life of Abraham Bosschaert.  The youngest son of Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, he was born in or near Middelburg around 1612 or 1613.  The family was living in Breda at the time of his fatherís death in 1621.  Abraham probably received his first training as a painter from his older brothers Ambrosius II and Johannes.  No later than 1628 he moved with his mother to Utrecht, where he probably continued his artistic education under the supervision of his uncle Balthasar van der Ast.  In 1635 he married Margareta Verhorst in Utrecht.  In the spring of 1637 he moved to Amsterdam, but returned to Utrecht shortly before his death in 1643.


i  L. J. Bol, The Bosschaert Dynasty, Leigh-on-Sea, 1960, p. 43.

Abraham Bosschaert

Middelburg 1612/13 - 1643 Utrecht

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