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Women Artists

The lives and works of creative women


Still Life with Flowers and Butterflies

Signed and dated 1686

RCIN 405626

Maria van Oosterwyck came from an artistic background in the Netherlands, and family connections with artists and early promise inspired her to become a painter. She was a pupil of Willem van Aelst, who also trained her peer Rachel Ruysch, during an era later referred to as the ‘Dutch Golden Age’. Commercial prosperity in the Netherlands at this time, and its growing art market, resulted in a number of successful women artists or assistants. The purchase of a still-life painting by Leopold I of Austria, in the late 1660s, brought Oosterwyck international recognition and established her reputation.

In this work, one of two late paintings by the artist in the Royal Collection, Oosterwyck beautifully balances out the meaning inherent within the still life: the creased rose petals remind the viewer that beauty must die, while the butterflies refer to Christ’s Resurrection.

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