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Gallery Text

From the 1600s into the early 18th century, many Dutch artists produced flower still lifes, which emerged from illustrated studies of actual plants, the rise of floral symbolism in religious paintings, and the development of ornamental horticulture facilitated by a wider reach of trade in the 15th and 16th centuries. Jan van Huysum was one of the most prominent masters of this genre, attracting patrons beyond his native country.

This intimate composition includes pink hollyhocks, which were brought to Europe from Asia by the first century CE, and an orange African marigold. Native to Mexico, the marigold became established in northern Africa and was introduced to Europe in the 1530s by way of Spain. Van Huysum painted from life with astonishing skill, reproducing every leaf, stem, and bloom with remarkable fidelity to nature.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Jan van Huysum II, Dutch (Amsterdam 1682 - 1749 Amsterdam)
Floral Still Life with Hollyhock and Marigold
Work Type
c. 1718
Level 2, Room 2300, European Art, 17th–19th century, Seventeenth–Century Dutch and Flemish Art
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
40 x 32.7 cm (15 3/4 x 12 7/8 in.)
framed: 61 × 53 cm (24 × 20 7/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: verso, middle stretcher, chalk: X5
  • label: verso, round sticker: 6673
  • inscription: verso, upper right, on frame: From / Juriston House / [illeg.] / [illeg.] in Edinburgh / the [illeg.] / pictures to my / sister Lucy [or Lady] / Bisland / [illeg. initals]
  • inscription: ledge on lower right: Jan van Huysum
  • inscription: verso, top stretcher, black stencil: 389DR
  • inscription: verso, bottom stretcher, black stencil: LX625
  • inscription: verso, right stretcher, chalk: LX625
Mrs. Mango, sold [through Christie's, London, May 11, 1923, lot 122 (with pendant)]; to [Spink & Son, London]. Alexander Steven Bilsland, Glasglow (1842-1970) [1], bequest; to Agnes Anne Bilsland (1896-1970). [Christie's, New York, January 16, 1992]. Peter and Anne Brooke, Boston, MA, gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2016

[1] See inscription: Alexander Steven Bissland was connected to Jerviston House through his wife, Amy Janet Colville (d. 1979); "Lady Bilsland" may refer to his sister Agnes Anne Bilsland (1896-1970), who had married David John Colville (1894-1954), Amy Janet's cousin.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Peter and Anne Brooke
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Early English Portraits, also Important Pictures and Drawings of the British and Continental Schools, auct. cat., Christie, Manson and Woods, Ltd. (London, May 11, 1923), p. 27, lot 122

Important Old Master Paintings, auct. cat., Christie's, New York (New York, January 16, 1992), pp. 154-155, lot 98, repr.

Peter C. Sutton, Prized Possessions: European Paintings from Private Collections of Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, exh. cat., MFA Publications (Boston, 1992), pp. 64, 168-169, repr. p. 64, cat. no. 75

Ronni Baer, The Poetry of Everyday Life: Dutch Painting in Boston, MFA Publications (Boston, 2002), p. 95, repr.

Sam Segal, Mariel Ellens, and Joris Dik, The Temptations of Flora: Jan van Huysum 1682-1749, exh. cat., Waanders Uitgevers (Zwolle, 2007), p. 168, repr. as fig. 9.3

A. Cassandra Albinson and Jessie Park, "A Glimpse into the Dutch Golden Age", Index Magazine ([e-journal], April 27, 2018), https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/article/a-glimpse-into-the-dutch-golden-age, accessed April 30, 2018

Exhibition History

Prized Posessions: European Paintings from Private Collections of Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 06/17/1992 - 08/16/1992

The Poetry of Everyday Life: Dutch Painting in Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 06/12/2002 - 09/15/2002

32Q: 2300 Dutch & Flemish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 11/05/2015; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/17/2018 - 01/01/2050

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu