NGV National Gallery of Victoria

Still lifes

Mario Nuzzi (Mario dei Fiori)
Italian 1603–1673
Vases of flowers (Vasi di fiori) c.1640–42
oil on canvas
83.0 x 155.0 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00250)
Spanish Royal Collection
Some of the most beautiful paintings in this exhibition are landscapes and still-life images of flowers, many of which once hung in the Buen Retiro Palace. They were usually placed above doors and windows, and were integral to the architectural aims of the building. Indeed many of the works commissioned for the Buen Retiro had to conform in shape and size to the architecture of the interiors. This architectural setting instigated a shift in the direction of still-life painting, which was still a relatively new genre in the seventeenth century. Caravaggio was instrumental in popularising still life and his method of lighting and use of darkness influenced Giuseppe Recco and the elusive Master S.B., both of whom were active in Naples and Rome and made numerous paintings that found their way to Spain.