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Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Jan van Mekeren

One can associate Dutch culture with flowers. So check out this cabinet in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam by Jan van Mekeren from around 1700. The doors have the two magnificent bouquets. There are slightly smaller bouquets on the sides. But that’s not all… there are flowers on the horizontal bands. There are flowers on the legs. There are even flowers on the stretcher.

Van Mekeren did several similar cabinets. Conservators at the Rijksmuseum did a painstaking analysis of 676 flowers van Mekeren used on pieces and discovered that 157 flowers are repeated, some as many as five times. This suggests that flowers were simply made without regard to use and then cut into the composition as needed.

I like to think of marquetry furniture devoid of the decoration. This cabinet would be an imposing piece without the pictures. (And the pictures would be impressive if they were just hung on a wall). When the decoration is added to the furniture form it becomes a masterpiece.

Post Series: Historical Works
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