Vermaert Konstschilderesse


Introduction to the paintings of Maria van Oosterwijck

Different sorts of still life painting

The works of Maria van Oosterwijck include sumptuous still lifes or banquetsflower paintings and so-called vanitas paintings. The main part of the known works of Maria van Oosterwijck consists flower paintings. On a few paintings, the flowers are a part of a larger, more comprehensive scene. The dividing line of flower still lifes and vanitas paintings is not so sharply drawn. Maria van Oosterwijck used both types to express her approach to the visible world. There are three paintings by Maria van Oosterwijck, which can be placed in the category sumptuous still lifes and banquets. Within the flower still lifes painted by Maria, a distinction can be made into bouquets in a vase and flowers that hang (festoons or garlands).

Maria had not the intention to make a realistic representation of a specific bouquet, but she had the ambition to paint a balanced structure of an arbitrary number of flowers and the effect of the colors in the painting. Every painting was done on the basis of many studies. This method enabled to build a strong and detailed visual image of specific flowers in her head and to paint 'out the spirit’.
Maria was affiliated in her paintings to the general view on still lifes, in the second half of the 17th century. This also applies to the exposure of the subject: the light coming from the left gets the strongest light the central section of the bouquet. Her religious background gives reasonable assurance that many elements of her paintings has a religious-moral purpose. In that sense Maria was loyal to the artistic views in the circles of Huygens, Cats and Oudaen.

Her paintings are never overloaded, and lively and elegantly arranged. They give a tasteful combination of colors against a dark background. This point of view may differ from the explanations of the art historian Kugler. He considers that Maria made not so strong floral arrangements and that the paintings show often an intrusive color combination. Nevertheless, he says, her flowers show a very real view with a depth, brilliance and freshness of colors that no other painter of flowers has reached. One of the features of her paintings is her fondness for pink provence rose on almost every painting in a prominent place to see. The sunflower is seen in her previous works, often without the top dominates the painting.
Another common feature of the paintings of Mary is the butterfly, which she symbolizes in a subtle way her philosophy on life, death and resurrection.

Assigning pictures to Maria van Oosterwijck

Maria van Oosterwijck far signed all her works. So did most artists of the 17th century either. For attributing an unsigned painting to Maria van Oosterwijck is a comparison of used painting styles and techniques necessary. Such a process is also required when paintings are signed. It was in the 17th and 18th century and beyond not uncommon to provide a painting with a fake signature to increase its value. A signature, therefore, says not all.
The authenticity of an artwork is determined by a material and technical style scrutiny. With the style critical investigation of how the picture was painted, experts try to recognize the hand of the painter carefully. How carefully an allotment, not all uncertainty can be removed. Sometimes are the differences between painters extremely small, especially if they belonged to the same studio or workshop or worked together during a certain period in a collective. The influence of a teacher during the learning or instructional period was extraordinary. To the creation of a painting in a studio sometimes worked several painters. The master could drop composition, which others then worked through and finished. The production of several paintings in a studio could take place simultaneously, while the collaborative painters influenced each other.

The arrangement of the paintings  

Having a choice in the left column you will find pictures of the paintings. The order of presentation is based on size of the surface of each painting (from largest to smallest). The images are not to scale. For each painting you can click for more information.