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Basket of Flowers
Arellano, Juan de
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Arellano, Juan de

Santorcaz, Madrid, 1614 - Madrid, 1676

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Basket of Flowers

1668 - 1670. Oil on canvas.
Room 018

Resting on a stone base, an openwork wicker basket full of flowers is the subject of this painting. The flowers represent an enormous variety of species, enabling a notably rich range of colours and forms, even when the entire arrangement is structured symmetrically. Among the manifold varieties are lilies, tulips, hydrangeas, roses, anemones and carnations, some of which -like the tulips- would have been costly specimens associated with a world of luxury and sophistication. Some of the flowers that have not been incorporated in the arrangement lie on the stone surface, as if the basket had just been prepared and the flowers only recently cut. This sensation of freshness and vitality is emphasised by the presence of numerous animals -primarily insects, such as the bees and butterflies that flit about the flowers. Such insects were a common motif in such compositions, although they are perhaps more abundantly represented here than was usual. In addition to insect life, two small lizards or newts crawl towards the basket, which adds even greater liveliness to this painting full of colour and animation. On the front of the stone pedestal, an inscription reveals the identity of the artist as Juan de Arellano, though such a signature is not essential to identify the work as his, for its composition and style are unmistakable. Arellano was the greatest painter of flowers active in Madrid in the second half of the seventeenth century. For several decades, the still lifes desired by the court had most commonly depicted foodstuffs or manufactured objects. An important shift in taste in the 1650s led to an intensified demand for paintings of flower arrangements, to the detriment of other subjects, and it was due to this that Arellano´s fame grew. Arellano´s importance as a flower painter is indicated by the significant number of signed works and their presence in prominent collections from the period, in some cases even in prestigious religious settings such as the chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel (Nuestra Señora del Buen Consejo) in Madrid. The fact that Antonio Palomino included Arellano in his compilation of biographies of major painters (1724) likewise provides testimony of this artist´s prestige. That Palomino considered a painter of flowers worthy of attention is particularly significant, for the writer held a classicising prejudice against the still-life genre. Of Arellano, he claimed that no other Spaniard surpassed him in eminence with regard to this skill and declared that his beginnings as a painter of flowers were connected to Mario Nuzzi (1603-73), an important Italian artist who specialised in this sort of composition. Some of Nuzzi´s works hung in the Royal Collections and in the palaces of Spanish aristocrats. According to Palomino, after starting out by copying works by Nuzzi, Arellano went on to depict flowers from life. In contrast to Nuzzi´s generally more dynamic and complex compositions, Arellano created works with a clear formal structure, in which the central placement of a basket or glass vase imposed a deliberate symmetry, and he typically placed these arrangements atop a stone base, something common in Spanish still lifes since the 1620s. He also typically created these works in pairs (as in this case) and, in the composition of each painting, he would take into account the features of its pendant. These general characteristics continued to prevail in the work of subsequent painters of flowers, for after Arellano there were several artists who followed his path, among them his son-in-law, Bartolomé Pérez (1634-93) (Text drawn from Portús, J.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 166).

Technical data

Related artworks

Basket of Flowers
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1670
Arellano, Juan de
Inventory number
Arellano, Juan de
Basket of Flowers
1668 - 1670
Height: 84 cm; Width: 105 cm
Bequest of Ángeles Sáinz de la Cuesta, dowager Countness of los Moriles, 1969.

Bibliography +

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972, pp. 859.

Camón Aznar, José, Pintura Española de los Siglos XVI al XIX, Direccion General de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1973, pp. nº2.

Salas, Xavier de, Adquisiciones del Museo del Prado. I. Pintores españoles, Goya: Revista de arte, 132, 1976, pp. 349-351.

La nature morte de Brueghel a Soutine, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Burdeos, 1978, pp. nº3.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado: adquisiciones de 1969 a 1977, Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1978, pp. 9.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Panorama de la pintura española desde los Reyes Católicos a, Servicio de Publicaciones del Instituto de Coopera, Madrid, 1980, pp. 98.

Prinz Von Hohenzollern, J.G., Von Greco Bis Goya. Vier Jahrhunderte Spanische Malerei, Haus Der Kunst, Munich, 1982, pp. 102.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Pintura española de bodegones y floreros de 1600 a Goya, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1983, pp. 121, nº 87.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 21.

Velázquez en Zijn Tijd: zeventiende-eeuwse Spaanse schilderk, Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, 1985, pp. 114, nº40.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Carreño, Rizi, Herrera y la pintura madrileña de su tiempo, Ministerio de Cultura. Banco Herrero, Madrid, 1986, pp. 285, nº 121.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., La nature morte espagnole du XVII sièecle a Goya, Office du Livre ; Vilo, Fribourg, 1987, pp. 134 / lám. 131.

El Segle D'Or de la Pintura Espanyola al Museu del Prado, Vegueria Episcopal, Andorra, 1991.

Urrea, Jesús, La Pittura Madrilena del Secolo XVII, Edizioni Carte Segrete, Roma, 1991, pp. 108, nº27.

Pinette, Matthieu, De Bellini à Bonnard : chefs-d'uvre de la peinture du Musée..., Le Temps apprivoisé, 1992.

Jordan, William B., El bodegón español de Velázquez a Goya, Ediciones el Viso, Madrid, 1995, pp. 136, nº51.

Museo Nacional del Prado, La belleza de lo real: floreros y bodegones españoles en el, COLLECIONES DEL MUSEO DEL PRADO, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1995, pp. 99.

Jordan, William B., Spanish Still Life From Velazquez To Goya, National Gallery, London, 1995, pp. 136, nº51.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, III, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Nadrid, 1996, pp. nº1905.

Naturaleza y Verdad Siglos XVII al XX, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico, 1996, pp. 50, nº11.

Juan de Arellano, (1614-1676): últimos floreros, Museo de Bellas Artes = Bilboko Arte Eder Museoa, Bilbao, 1997, pp. 40-41, nº3.

Los Cinco Sentidos y el Arte, MUSEO DEL PRADO.GUIA PARA PROFESORE, Servicio de Educacion y Accion Cult, Madrid, 1997, pp. 318.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Juan de Arellano (1614-1676), Caja Madrid, Madrid, 1998, pp. 61.

Calderón de la Barca y la España del Barroco, Sociedad Estatal España Nuevo Milenio, Madrid, 2000, pp. 224, nº1.

El bodegón, Galaxia GutenbergCírculo de Lectores, Madrid, 2000, pp. lám. 45.

Flores españolas del Siglo de Oro: la pintura de flores en la España del siglo XVII, Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 2002, pp. 136, nº31.

Obras Maestras del Museo del Prado, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, 2002.

Portús Pérez, Javier, La colección de pintura española en el Museo del Prado, Edilupa, Madrid, 2003, pp. 144.

Weniger, Matthias, Greco, Velazquez, Goya : Spanische Malereiaus Deutschen Sam..., Prestel, München ; Berlin ; London, 2005, pp. 230.

El Greco, Velazquez, Goya :five centuries of spanish master..., Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, 2006, pp. 64.

De Tiziano a Goya: grandes maestros del Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado: SEACEX, Madrid, 2007, pp. 227.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 166-167, nº45.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1972. Núm. 3138.

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1905.
Autor: Arellano / 1905. Asunto: florero / lienzo: 0,84 x 1,05 / Nº del catalogo: 3138 / Donación de la condesa Vda. de los Moriles, agosto 1969.

Inscriptions +

Juan de Arellano
Signed. Front, Lower right area

Exhibitions +

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
13.09.2007 - 12.11.2007

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
29.06.2007 - 24.08.2007

Desde El Greco hasta Goya - Budapest
26.01.2006 - 14.05.2006

Flores españolas del Siglo de Oro / Spanich Flower Painting in the Golden Age
15.11.2002 - 02.02.2003

Obras Maestras del Museo del Prado - Tokio
05.03.2002 - 23.06.2002

Calderón de la Barca y la España del Barroco
15.06.2000 - 15.01.2001

Juan de Arellano
01.04.1998 - 01.06.1998

Juan de Arellano
10.10.1997 - 14.12.1997

Naturaleza y verdad: Bodegones y flores (siglos XVII-XX)
México D.F.
28.11.1996 - 17.02.1997

Spanish still life. Painting from Sánchez Cotán to Goya
22.02.1995 - 21.05.1995

Pintura madrileña del Siglo XVII
10.12.1991 - 31.01.1992

Pintura española del Siglo de Oro
Andorra la Vella
07.05.1991 - 25.05.1991

Location +

Room 018 (On Display)


Displayed objects +


Update date: 13-05-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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