Spotlight Artist: #2 Rachel Ruysch (1664 - 1750)

Still-Life with Fruit and Insects

1711

Oil on wood, 44 x 60 cm (approx. 18” x 24”)

Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence


Synopsis

READ:Adapted from the National Museum of Women in the Arts):

  • Rachel Ruysch was successful for nearly 70 years as a specialist in flower paintings. 

  • Ruysch's maternal grandfather, Pieter Post, was an important architect,and her father, Frederik Ruysch, an eminent scientist. From him, she learned how to observe and record nature with great accuracy.

  • At 15, she was apprenticed to the well-known Dutch flower painter Willem van Aelst. From that point on, she produced various kinds of still lifes, mainly flower pieces and woodland scenes.

  • In 1701, Ruysch became a member of the painters' guild in The Hague. At that time, she began producing large flower works for an international circle of patrons. Several years later, Ruysch was invited to Düsseldorf to serve as court painter to Johann Wilhelm, the Elector Palatine of Bavaria. She remained there from 1708 until the prince's death in 1716.

  • After returning to Holland, Ruysch kept painting fruit and flower pictures for a prominent clientele. She remained artistically active, proudly inscribing her age on a canvas she completed in 1747, at age 83.

  • Despite the changes in popularity of flower paintings during the years since her death, Ruysch's reputation has never waned.


LOOK AT THIS PAINTING CLOSELY AND READ ABOUT IT'S COMPOSITION(make sure to click on the photo to see it in full)

Gallery

Video - Watch BOTH of these prior to answering essential questions.




Essential Questions -

AFTER CAREFULLY REVIEWING THE RESOURCES ASSIGNED ABOVE: Answer the following questions completely and with specificity to the provided resources, notes taken, personal reflection, and additional research as needed. Make sure to consider how this information is relevant to your current work and project.

  1. What were the circumstances of Ruysch's formal training in careful observation? How was this level of observation beneficial to her work?

  2. Look carefully at the composition of her works in the gallery. What is similar AND different between them? As a viewer, do you have a preference? (think about this as you consider your own compositions and how the viewers will experience your work).

  3. What is a "vanitas" painting? According to art scholars, are Ruysch's paintings considered "vanitas?" Explain.

  4. How does she use contrast to create emphasis in her work? Be specific.

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