Simon Pietersz Verelst
Flowers, c. 1690
oil on canvas
64.3 x 48.6 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from The Winnipeg Foundation
During a time when imported exotic flowers and bulbs were sold as a valuable commodity throughout Europe, Simon Pietersz Verelst became a highly successful painter of flora and fauna. A master of the Guild of St. Luke at The Hague, his style is a combination of the Dutch still-life tradition and contemporary French taste. A trip to London in 1666 secured him several important commissions for aristocratic portraits, including those of George Villiers, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham. This meticulously detailed still life, featuring an array of ornamental petals and foliage highlighted by tiny dewdrops, reveals the painter as a master of trompe l’oeil. Eventually overwhelmed by his own success, Verelst, proclaiming himself “God of Flowers” and the “King of Painting,” was ultimately placed in an asylum towards the end of his life.