Still Life with Garland of Flowers and Chalice

Jan Brueghelc.1518 - c.1518

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
Brussels, Belgium

It took until 1606 for Jan Bruegel I to paint the great many paintings of flowers which would guarantee his fame, both during and after his lifetime. That particular year, he made close links with the Brussels court. Archduke Albert offered him the possibility to paint and study "curiosities" on site, including flowers, animal species and precious and rare objects. Bruegel's extremely delicate, almost miniaturist, painting technique never expressed itself so fully as in still life works. It is possible to divide Jan Bruegel's floral still lifes into three types: floral compositions in a vase, goblet or basket, wreaths and garlands surrounding a central scene and, finally, still lifes with or without arrangements of flowers and other objects. The Brussels painting is an example of the latter of these three categories. The goblet and the flower wreath are typical Bruegel motifs. Jewellery and coins were the accessories chosen for his "The 5 Senses" series of allegories in Madrid (Museo Nacional del Prado, 1616-1617); however, the jewellery box is a new motif. Here Bruegel tries to adapt the still life to a diagonal composition, a composition which constitutes a key element of landscape paintings. The studied position of the wreath contrasts the oblique angles of the objects on the table. Bruegel uses an equilateral triangle shape to structure his composition, created here by the diagonals from the needs and the left edge of the jewellery box, which meet at the level of the median and vertical axes of the composition. The triangle gives a sense of depth and creates a link between the jewellery box and the other elements. (Christine Van Mulders in "Rubens. L'atelier du génie" [Rubens: The studio of a genius])


  • Title: Still Life with Garland of Flowers and Chalice
  • Creator: Jan Brueghel
  • Date: c.1518 - c.1518
  • support: wood
  • origin: Aquired form the Arthur De Heuvel gallery, Brussels, 1935
  • Physical Dimensions: w52.5 x h47.5 cm (without frame)
  • Provenance: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels
  • Type: painting (panel)
  • Rights: © Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels / photo : J. Geleyns / Ro scan

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