Rachel Ruysch - Women in art history

Rachel Ruysch

Women in art history

As many of you know women in art history were ignored and unrepresented for centuries. As I was reading a few months ago an article on the work of Rachel Ruysch I fell madly in love with her still life paintings. 

Her asymmetrical compositions with drooping flowers and wild stems created paintings that seemed to possess a great energy about them. They inspired me to try new compositions with darker backgrounds. 

Flowers on a stone slab

Flowers on a stone slab

Flowers on a tree trunk

Flowers on a tree trunk

Flower Still Life depicts a lush variety of different flowers, from popular common European blooms to rare overseas species. Ruysch combines a complex and intricate arrangement of poppies, snapdragons, roses, carnations, hollyhocks, marigolds, morning glories and a single red and white flamed tulip. Flowers lavishly spill out of the vase, filling the entire picture space. Some are in full bloom, others droop and wilt, as leaves and curving stems entwine throughout. While many of her contemporary flower painters used more symmetrical and formal compositions, Ruysch was known for these lively and informal looking arrangements. The flowers are asymmetrically arranged, leading the eye diagonally from the lower left drooping marigold to the upper right red poppy. Our eye is first attracted to the lightest flowers in the center, then to the brightly colored surrounding flowers, and finally out to the small darker flowers at the edges of the bouquet. Complementary colors create harmony, as warm yellows and rose balance cool blues and greens. Light alternates with shadow, enlivening the flowers as they stand out dramatically against the darker background.
— Khan Academy

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Even if the paintings are darker, I feel like they are light and still glowing. I love this exploration and will keep seeking further.