CORTE, Gabriel de la
(b. 1648, Madrid, d. 1694, Madrid)

Grotesques with Flowers

1690
Oil on canvas, 61 x 81 cm
Private collection

This painting (and another in the same private collection) are illuminating examples of the type of decorative flower pieces in series in which De la Corte specialised. The complete series is likely to have comprised a number of other pictures of the same type. These pictures are trompe l'oeil works that depict fictive carved stone or stucco-work grotesques of scrolling vegetable ornament with intertwining flower garlands. It is unlikely that these grotesques existed as such and they were most probably copied from 16th or 17th-century ornamental prints.

While the grotesques are repeated in each picture, the floral arrangements vary and offer a delightful interplay between the natural-looking flowers and the stylised vegetable ornaments. The repetition of the grotesque decorations and the downward-looking angle of the cherubs gaze in the paintings suggest that these pictures were intended to make up a frieze on the upper part of the wall in a private residence of the time.