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Jan van Huysum was a flower painter who followed in the mainstream of the Dutch flower-painting tradition. Among Dutch artists of this time, specialists in still lives, landscapes, portraits or genre scenes were quite common. Van Huysum, who was a student of his father, Justus van Huysum, was one of the most popular still-life painters of the period. His paintings are characteristically marked by a technical perfection and love of detail. Van Huysum's works are actually more representative of the eighteenth-century Baroque style than that of the seventeenth-century, in that his flowers are not compacted into tight, symmetrical groupings, but rather composed in open free-form bouquets, highlighted by the dramatic lighting effects and use of ornate detail that mark the Baroque.
His work shows a consistent fondness for putti figures outlined in bas-relief on his vases. Van Huysum was an accomplished draughtsman and produced fine spontaneous drawings-some finished works, some studies for his flower paintings. He was particular about working from nature, and would often delay work on a painting because he could not find a specific flower or piece of fruit. The tradition of Dutch still-life painters was quite moralistic, using various devices to point out the follies and foibles of mankind, and many of van Huysum's works exhibit this same concern, expressed through the biblical inscriptions that often adorn his vases. He saw his works not just as pretty flower pictures, but as a means to a greater knowledge and awareness. Van Huysum enjoyed considerable success and had many followers. His style of still-life painting remained fashionable well into the nineteenth century and still delights the eye today.
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