Toledo Museum of Art. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey

Flower Still Life

Rachel Ruysch, ca. 1726
Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo

Rachel Ruysch’s flower bouquets and fruit pieces were held in the highest esteem during her lifetime and she is today rightly considered one of the foremost still life painters. Her work represents the culmination of a long tradition of this genre before its decline in the eighteenth century. Her exceptional ability to render the textures of leaves and petals, suggest the forms of flowers through the play of light and shadow, and create a sense of movement and balance through composition and color is on full display in Toledo’s painting and impresses today as much as it did then. Her detailed and precise depictions reflect the period’s deep interest and advances in the understanding of the natural world. The message her paintings conveyed, the impermanence of nature as a mirror of the fragility of life, continues to ring true today. Nature and its beauty are today more endangered than ever. Life remains fragile, too, especially in these uncertain times.

Robert Schindler, Fariss Gambrill Lynn and Henry Sharpe Lynn Curator of European Art, Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, Alabama

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