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Dirck de Bray

Still Life of a Basket of Flowers on a Marble Ledge

56 x 48.2 cm

A wicker basket containing a simple assortment of flowers is placed on a ledge of Italian marble over which other flowers are strewn. The freely painted petals loom up from the background which is mysteriously shrouded in shadow. A stark chiaroscuro with tempered light illuminates the fragile flowers. The sort of light is typical for a cloudy day. Pale spots of shadow on the marble and on the white petal of the trumpetshaped field bindweed (convolvulus arvensis) suggest clouds moving before the sun, a marvellously observed detail that enforces the impression of fleeting time and the momentary character of the image.

The present meditative picture is Dirck de Bray’s earliest oil painting. There is nothing to prepare us for this dazzling work. Dirck had begun his career as a book binder with the book printer Passchier van Wesbusch II and was then primarily active as a letter designer and illustrator for the book printers Pieter and Abraham Casteleyn.