It has been announced today that we have acquired this painting by Cornelis de Heem for Dyrham Park.
The picture was purchased by the builder of Dyrham, William Blathwayt, in the 1690s. It stayed in the house until it was sold at auction in 1956.
Now, after an absence of almost sixty years, it is returning to Dyrham. The acquisition has been made possibly by grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Mr and Mrs Kenneth Levy bequest, the Art Fund, a fund set up by the late Hon. Simon Sainsbury, the Royal Oak Foundation’s Ervin-DesChamps Fund and a private donation.
Apart from being a display of virtuoso painterly skill, the picture also hints at the transience of material culture. Some of the fruits are beginning to rot and the wild plants are encroaching on the garden, ready to undo man’s efforts.
Blathwayt is thought to have acquired this picture on one of his trips to the Low Countries in the 1690s, when he was accompanying King William III on his military campaigns.
Blathwayt’s ‘Hollandophile’ taste is still very much in evidence at Dyrham, with its collections of Dutch paintings (including other flower paintings) and blue and white Delftware. The de Heem will look right at home in the Diogenes Room, next to the Diogenes tapestries (also richly festooned with flowers) and Delft flower pyramids.