Dulwich Picture Gallery II



Daniel Seghers
Antwerp, 3 December 1590, baptised 6 December–Antwerp, 2 November 1661
A Flemish painter of still lifes, primarily of flowers

Daniel Seghers [1] often produced work in collaboration with others. He was the son of a Flemish silk merchant, Pierre Seghers, who died c. 1601. After his father’s death Seghers’ mother converted to Calvinism and left Antwerp with him for the Northern Netherlands; there he probably studied with a painter in Utrecht whose name is unknown. Within a few years he had returned to Antwerp, where he was a pupil of Jan Brueghel I (Velvet Brueghel; 1568–1625) around 1609, and joined the Guild of St Luke in 1611. In 1614 Seghers, who had converted back to the Catholic faith, joined the Jesuit Order as a lay brother, then took priestly vows in 1625. He travelled to Rome shortly thereafter, where he worked with Domenichino (1581–1641). He went back to Antwerp in 1627 and remained there for the rest of his life, as a Jesuit, continuing to paint in the service of the Jesuit Order. That meant that patrons could not commission paintings, but only get them as a gift from the Jesuits. Many European princes and kings received Seghers’ pictures, for which they sent presents in return.1

Seghers specialized in flower painting from the outset, but it is difficult to establish a chronology of his work, since dated pictures only appear between 1635 and 1651. At the end of his life he made a list of his paintings, in which his ‘patrons’ are mentioned, of which an 18th-century transcript survives.2 While he also produced traditional images of flowers in vases, it is for his use of flower garlands and cartouches that he is best known and most innovative. When this genre was introduced by Jan Brueghel I in the winter of 1607–8 the flower garlands were painted with a space in the centre for an existing painting by another artist (a real Einsatzbild – a picture inserted in another picture),3 but in most of the later versions the central image and garlands are part of the same work. In Seghers’ pictures the central image was usually painted by another artist – in all at least twenty-four, including Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert (1613/14–54), Gonzales Coques (1614/18–84) and Domenichino.4 Erasmus Quellinus II (see below) was a favourite co-worker, collaborating on at least twenty-eight paintings, as here; Cornelis Schut I (1597–1655) was involved in forty-four.5

Seghers’ work was highly sought out across Europe. He was in correspondence with many literary figures, most notably Constantijn Huygens I (1596–1687) in The Hague. He was mentioned as a possible participant in the decoration of the Oranjezaal in Huis ten Bosch, but that did not happen. Seghers had a significant influence on Dutch and Flemish flower painters and also on the Spanish still life painter Bartolomé Pérez (1634–93/8).

Jan Lievens
Portrait of Daniel Seghers (1590-1661), c. 1635-1644
paper, black chalk 239 x 202 mm
London (England), British Museum, inv./cat.nr. Gg,2.233

Erasmus Quellinus II
Antwerp, 19 November 1607–Antwerp, died 7 November , buried 11 November 1678
Flemish painter and draughtsman

Erasmus Quellinus II's [2] father, Erasmus I (c. 1584–1640), was a sculptor, as was his brother Artus I (1609–68), who was to decorate Amsterdam Town Hall. The young Erasmus received a humanist and literary education, but developed as a painter. His teachers were the otherwise unknown Jan-Baptist Verhaeghe in 1633 and Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640). Erasmus became a member of the Guild of St Luke in Antwerp in 1633–4. He often worked with Rubens, including decoration for the triumphal entry into Antwerp of the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria (1609–41) in 1635, and paintings in the Torre de la Parada, the hunting lodge of King Philip IV (1605–65) outside Madrid, in 1636–8. With his brother Artus he decorated rooms in Amsterdam Town Hall c. 1656. He also made designs for tapestries. He contributed fictive sculpture in grisaille to flower still lifes, including those of Daniel Seghers. Later he received many civic commissions for official ceremonies in Antwerp, such as the theatre for the proclamation of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Erasmus Quellinus II was a very successful painter; when he died he had a large collection of paintings by Rubens, Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) and Italian masters, and sculptures by his brother Artus and François Du Quesnoy (1597–1643), the Flemish sculptor living in Rome, who had influenced Artus while he was there.

Kieckens 1886; Hairs 1964; Couvreur 1967; Vlieghe 1967; De Bruyn 1980; Haberland 1996b; Vlieghe 1996c; Merriam 2011, pp. 107–23; Saur, xcvii, 2018, p. 264 (T. van der Molen; Quellinus); Saur, cii, 2019, p. 493 (U. B. Wegener; Seghers); RKDartists&, no. 65222: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/65222 (Quellinus) and no. 71799: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/71799 (Seghers) (both Dec. 8, 2019).

Pieter de Jode (II) after Erasmus Quellinus (I) published by Joannes Meyssens
Portrait of Erasmus Quellinus II (1607-1678), before or in 1649
paper, copper engraving, 1st state 167 x 114 mm
The Hague, RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History

Daniel Seghers and Erasmus Quellinus II
DPG322 – Cartouche with the Virgin and Child and a Monk [?] in a Flower Garland

1655–60; canvas, 96.5 x 71 cm
Signed, bottom right: Daniel. Seghers. Soctis JESV; and centre, on the grisaille: E.Q.

?Anna Maria Mechelmans (†1666), Antwerp;6 Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 27, no. 278 (‘Unhung / no. 9, Flower piece, in circular wreath, round a Medallion in one colour of [sic] – C[anvas] Breughel & Rubens’; 4'3" x 3'4").

Cat. 1817, p. 5, no. 53 (‘FIRST ROOM – North Side; Flowers in a Vase; Breughel and Rubens’); Haydon 1817, p. 374, no. 53; Cat. 1820, p. 5, no. 53; Cat. 1830, p. 6, no. 102; Passavant 1836/1978, i, p. 62 (Seghers); Jameson 1842, ii, p. 458, no. 102 (Seghers); Waagen 1854, ii, p. 345 (Seghers and probably Erasmus Quellinus); Lejeune, ii, 1864, p. 354 (Daniel Seghers; Fleurs); Denning 1858 and 1859, no. 102 (probably Cornelius Schut); Sparkes 1876, p. 163, no. 102 (Seghers; ‘relief of the Virgin and Child, and Elizabeth’); Richter & Sparkes 1880, pp. 153–4, no. 102 (Seghers, and probably Erasmus Quellinus); Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 90, no. 322; Cook 1914, p. 199; Cook 1926, pp. 185–6; Cat. 1953, p. 37 (only Seghers mentioned; ‘Flowers encircling a Relief’); Hairs 1955, p. 236; Hairs 1957, p. 153, note 2; Hairs 1965, pp. 133–4 (note 364), 406; Couvreur 1967, pp. 125–6, 133, no. 234;7 Hairs 1977, p. 104 (notes 38, 40); Murray 1980a, p. 118 (‘Madonna and Child with S. Anne’; similar picture in the Ashmolean, Oxford, with a Madonna by Jordaens); Murray 1980b, p. 26; De Bruyn 1980, pp. 317, 320, no. 24, fig. 32; Hairs 1985, i, p. 176, ii, p. 42; De Bruyn 1988, pp. 62, 239, no. 198 (c. 1655–60); Beresford 1998, p. 221; Prohaska 2002, p. 334 (note 2); De Bruyn & Vézilier-Dussart 2014, p. 162 no. 135; Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, pp. 227–8; RKD, no. 196910: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/196910 (Feb. 25, 2020, including detail with the EQ monogram).

London 1953–4, p. 86, no. 277; London 1996, pp. 50–51, no. 11 (P. Taylor); London 1999b (no cat. no.; 1655–60).

Unlined medium plain-weave linen canvas, still on the original pine stretcher. The paint surface has a predominantly horizontal craquelure all over, which is slightly raised, especially in the dark areas. There is some cupping, particularly over the stretcher bars. There is a small retouching below the main signature covering either two vertical scratches or the number eleven. This painting, in an excellent state of preservation, is unlined and retains its original stretcher. Previous recorded treatment: 1936, frame and stretcher treated with paraffin; 1953, conserved, Dr Hell.

1) Daniel Seghers and Erasmus Quellinus II, Cartouche with the Virgin and Child with St Anne in a Flower Garland, c. 1650, canvas, 89.5 x 71 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Dorotheum, Vienna, 18 Oct. 1994, lot 104; Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussels, 26–30 April 1994, lot 689 (Jan van Kessel) [3].
2) Daniel Seghers and an unknown painter (Simon de Vos (1603–76), Abraham van Diepenbeeck (1596–1675) and Jan van den Hoecke (1611–51) have been suggested), Cartouche with the Virgin and Child with St Anne in a Flower Garland, 1644, panel, 82.5 x 54.5 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 553 [4].8
3) Daniel Seghers and Erasmus Quellinus II, The Miracle of St Bernard in a Garland of Flowers, signed ‘Daniel. Seghers. Soctis JESV’ and ‘Erasmus Quellinus’, canvas, 100.5 x 73 cm. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 1981P81 [5].9

In 1813 Britton attributed DPG322 to Jan Brueghel and Rubens, who indeed were the inventors of this kind of flower painting around a religious scene, in their case the Madonna and Child, at the beginning of the 17th century.10 Passavant was the first to see the signature of Seghers, remarking of the collection at Dulwich ‘The little knowledge and care employed in compiling the catalogue, is evident from the circumstance of a Vase of Flowers, on which “Daniel Seghers tacti [sic] IESV” is plainly legible, but which, nevertheless, is given out for the united production of Rubens and Breughel.’ Passavant however did not read Seghers’ signature correctly, and missed the initials of Quellinus completely – if they were visible at the time. Waagen seems to have been the first to decipher the initials. Without them Erasmus Quellinus II would not be a likely candidate: his work is generally of much higher quality.11 De Bruyn suggests a date of c. 1655–60 for DPG322, which seems reasonable. A similar collaboration between Seghers and Quellinus was sold in Vienna in 1994 (Related works, no. 1) [3].

DPG322 is an example of a particular genre of 17th-century Flemish flower painting, the ‘religious still life’.12 Such pictures usually consist of a central religious subject, often depicted as sculpture, surrounded by a garland of flowers and fruit. The resulting images are thus both devotional and decorative, and they were meant to intensify the viewer’s religious experience when looking at art. They are explicit Counter-Reformation statements, combining a veneration of the Madonna with ‘stone’ reliefs and swags of flowers.

In addition to roses the flowers here include alcea (hollyhock), narcissus (jonquil), leucojum, and blue and white scilla. As several canvases with flowers and cartouches have been discovered without the central image it is thought that Seghers worked on the paintings first. Until recently the cartouche here was thought to contain a Virgin and Child with St Anne, which, according to the inventory drawn up by Seghers of his own work, could have been painted for Anna Maria Mechelmans.13 However, when compared with other scenes of the Virgin and Child with St Anne the figure on the left does not look like a St Anne. She is usually depicted in a family setting – for instance holding the Christ Child on her lap (Related works, no. 1) [3] or playing with the Child (Related works, no. 2) [4] – whereas here there seems to be a devotional distance between the two. Rather than St Anne the hooded figure looks like a monk (or nun?) with hands clasped in devotion. No such subject can be found in the list of Seghers’ works – or is it hidden under the description ‘with a bas-relief by Seigneur Quellinus’?14

Daniël Seghers and Erasmus Quellinus (II)
Sculpted cartouche adorned with flowers with the Virgin and Child and a monk (?), 1655-1660
canvas, oil paint 96,5 x 71 cm
lower right : Daniel. Seghers. Soc. tis JESV (tis in superscript)
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG322

Daniël Seghers and Erasmus Quellinus (II)
Sculpted cartouche adorned with flowers with a representation of the Virgin and Child and St. Anne, c. 1650
canvas, oil paint 89,5 x 71 cm
Dorotheum (Vienna) 1994-10-18, nr. 104

Daniël Seghers
Sculpted cartouche adorned with flowers with a representation of the Virgin and Child and St. Anne, c. 1644
panel (oak), oil paint 82,5 x 54,5 cm
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv./cat.nr. 553

Daniël Seghers and Erasmus Quellinus (II)
Sculpted cartouche adorned with flowers with a depiction of the Virgin and the Christ child with St. Bernard of Clairvaux, presumably 1661
canvas, oil paint 88,5 x 72 cm
lower left : Daniel. Seghers. Soctis JESV (tis in superscript)
Birmingham (Great Britain), Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, inv./cat.nr. 1981P81


1 For instance in 1649 Seghers received a golden palette, a maulstick and five brush-holders from Stadholder Willem II (1626–50) and Amalia van Solms-Braunfels (1602–75); only gilt copies survive: see Van der Ploeg & Vermeeren 1997, pp. 246–9, no. 35. Of the four paintings by Seghers that were sent to members of the house of Orange in The Hague only one, a collaboration with Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert (1613/14–54), is still in the Mauritshuis (no. 256): Van der Ploeg & Vermeeren 1997, pp. 208–11, no. 27.

2 Published in Couvreur 1967.

3 Freedberg 1981, pp. 116–17 (fig. 3). The earliest painting of this kind seems to have been made at the request of Federico Borromeo (1564–1631), Archbishop of Milan, in 1607/8; the central image was painted on a silver panel by Hendrick van Balen I (1573–1632). See also Prohaska 2002, p. 321, and Merriam 2011, pp. 21–2, colour pl. II. Later Jan Brueghel collaborated mainly with Rubens.

4 De Bruyn 1980, pp. 262–3.

5 Vlieghe 1967.

6 See note 7.

7 ‘[234] aen jouff Anna Maria Mechglmans […] een cartelle met blommen waer in geschildert was Jesus Maria Anna door Sr Quellinus’ (to Miss Anna Maria Mechelmans [...] a picture with flowers in which Jesus Maria Anna was painted by Sr. Quellinus). Couvreur suggests that this is DPG322.

8 RKD, no. 197104: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/197104 (March 28, 2018); Ferino-Pagden, Prohaska & Schütz 1991, p. 112, pl. 449 (figures attributed to Abraham van Diepenbeeck); Prohaska 2002, pp. 282, 320, 334–5 (no. 116), 348.

9 RKD, no. 196826: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/196826 (March 28, 2018); Arenberg sale, Galerie G. Giroux, Brussels, 15 Nov. 1926, no. 72; Hairs 1955, p. 238. See also https://www.vads.ac.uk/digital/collection/NIRP/id/27056/rec/1 (Jan. 23, 2021).

10 Three of these paintings with a garland by Brueghel and a Madonna and Child by Rubens seem to have survived (from c. 1616–20): Van Suchtelen in Woollett & Van Suchtelen 2006, pp. 3 (fig. 1, Alte Pinakothek, Munich), 116–17, no. 12 (Prado, Madrid) and 120 (fig. 69, Louvre, Paris). In these cases Rubens used colour; the scenes are presented as a kind of trompe-l’œil ‘real’ pictures (in the Prado version the picture hangs with an eyelet on a cord amidst the flowers) combined with ‘real’ flowers, just as Seghers and his collaborators were combining trompe-l’œil reliefs in grisaille with ‘real’ flowers. See also note 3.

11 According to Helen Hillyard ‘the EQ monogram appears to be original and an integrated part of the design […] However, it is very small and easily missed’, email to Ellinoor Bergvelt, 13 Feb. 2020 (DPG322 file).

12 Prohaska 2002; Freedberg 1981.

13 See note 7.

14 For instance: ‘(137) een cartelle voor Mijn Heer Van Cruijs […] met een barreleef van Sr Quelinus’ (a picture for Mr. Van Cruijs … with a bas-relief by Seigneur Quellinus)? See the inventory published by Couvreur 1967, p. 113.

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