RUBENS, Peter Paul
(b. 1577, Siegen, d. 1640, Antwerpen)

Madonna in Floral Wreath

c. 1620
Oil on oak, 185 x 209,8 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Religious flower still-lifes are a special category, first developed by the Fleming Daniel Seghers, a pupil of Jan Brueghel the Elder. However, this can be traced back to Rubens's Madonna in Floral Wreath (with the collaboration of Jan Brueghel the Elder). This represents a picture within a picture with an authoritative religious significance, encircled by a floral arrangement and cherubs. Unlike Seghers, however, Rubens did not quote Mary and Jesus as historical traditions or pictorial relics. Instead he preferred to give the impression that they were physically present, even though the motif of a picture within a picture would have been ideally suited for illusionist stylization.

This painting is a good example of the encounter of talents of Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder, one much appreciated by collectors. Each exhibits his own virtuosity, Rubens painting the figures and Brueghel the floral decoration.