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The Cover
April 9, 2003

Flower Still Life

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(14):1743. doi:10.1001/jama.289.14.1743

The great century of Dutch flower painters is bracketed by two of its finest: Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573-1621) , who brought it to life at the beginning of the 17th century, and, as earlier noted, Jan van Huysum, who revived it early in the 18th century (JAMA cover, March 5, 2003 ). Bosschaert was its father, van Huysum its phoenix. But, like two buds cut from a single stem, their works are similar, yet distinctive. Van Huysum's are untidy, like an overgrown English garden, Bosschaert's as precise as a Versailles flower bed. Van Huysum's colors spill all over the canvas, Bosschaert's are contained, as though chiseled from a rainbow. Van Huysum catches his blooms en deshabille, as in a candid snapshot, Bosschaert poses his as carefully as syndics in a formal group portrait, an egalitarian arrangement as politic as any Frans Hals would ever conceive. After all, in a republic with neither aristocrats nor commoners, forget-me-nots, lilies of the valley, and violets are no less worthy than roses, tulips, or carnations. But it would be deceptive to pretend that van Huysum did not plan his arrangements, whereas Bosschaert did. Each is as carefully planned, down to the last detail, as if it were a to be a schema for a new town hall or an addition to the village church.

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