A Thousand Words

Rachel Ruysch's Still Life with Flowers in a Glass Vase

At first glance, Rachel Ruysch's small panel depicts a handful of flowers gathered at random from a cottage garden and thrust artlessly into a vase, a thing of charm and beauty but no more than an aspect of everyday life and a decoration for an urban Dutch house. However, art of this caliber is seldom so simple. It is designed to make the viewer stop and think.

A Masterpiece of Artifice

Ruysch has composed her bouquet with care to create a feeling of movement from the rose at the lower left to the triad of roses and poppies at the center and . . .

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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.

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more on art from the online archives

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