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Video transcript

we're in the effete sea and we're looking at a still-life painting by a Dutch artist his name is Rachel Roche lorisha was incredibly successful during her very long career she painted from the time she was in her teens until she was in her 80s more than 60 years and you can see why her paintings were so wildly popular in fact her paintings regularly sold for double what Rembrandt's paintings sold for in Holland artists specialized in certain types of paintings artists like Rembrandt painted portraits others like Rachel Rory she painted still-life paintings others like Rosedale he did landscapes they were painting for a widening merchant class in 17th century Holland she specialized in flowers but this particular painting is fruit and insects and seems to be about the autumn the subject of the harvest fruits and vegetables that are harvested in the autumn corn if squash chestnuts and grapes but also wheat and this reminds us that still eyes were often not only simple representations of items that might be put on a table but would have symbolic value any Christian looking at this painting in the 17th century would have seen the wheat and the graves and thought of the Eucharist of the sacrament of communion of the body and blood of Christ the bread and the wine and it's also important to realize that this is not just a scene that she would have assembled on the table and painted this is likely a composite of studies of grave studies of peaches studies of plums studies of a nest with eggs and it's studies of a butterfly that are then combined imaginatively into this composition into a microcosm this was a time in the late 17th and early 18th century when the microscope was perfected and we were looking into worlds beyond what we had known before and a scientific interest in categorizing the natural world and looking closely at it and in fact a great example of this is Rachel's own father Frederick Royce he was one of the most famous scientists of his day he specialized in botany and the study of anatomy especially human anatomy and he was an artist he had a cabinet of curiosities a collection of natural wonders that he published and illustrated himself Rachel's mother on the other hand was the daughter of one of the most famous architects in the Netherlands at this time perfect preparation for a woman who would spend her long life looking at infinitely small details of the natural world and painting these things as though they were almost scientific specimens but bringing them together in beautiful compositions well I notice are the color harmonies so we have these reds and greens red and green are complementary colors the green grapes on one side the red on the other bounce by the red plums on the other side of the composition you can see that also within individual elements look for instance at the bunch of grapes on the right side those red purple grapes except that they have a little bit of a dust of powder blue and we see the same thing in the plum on the extreme left the butterfly in the foreground maybe it's moth that's just landing is a good reminder that Rachel's father Frederic collected specimens like butterflies and preserved them and in fact was a master at preserving parts of human anatomy and animal insect species and had such a famous collection that he'd sold it to Peter the Great the Tsar of Russia I love that butterfly it looks as if it is just about to land but perhaps having second thoughts because it's a salamander a small lizard that idea that you mentioned before of a world of its own this is a painting that is about slow careful discovery and this is an artist whose mastery rewards the patient observer
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