As part of the preparation for our 20 years celebrations, our Chinese Bronzes and Women’s Library collections will be closed from Monday 26 February, reopening with the rest of our new season on Thursday 21 March.

Paolo Porpora 1617-1675

Still Life with Flowers in an Urn, Butterflies and a Snake

Details

Artist

Paolo Porpora 1617-1675

Title

Still Life with Flowers in an Urn, Butterflies and a Snake

Date

About 1650s

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

129 x 98.5 cm (unframed); 158 x 124 cm (framed)

Reference

CVCSC:0248.S

Collection

Naples

Status

On Display

Paolo Porpora was nicknamed ‘Paoluccio dei Fiori’ (Paoluccio of Flowers). Born in Naples, at the age of fifteen he entered the studio of Giacomo Recco (1603-1653), who, with Luca Forte (c.1615-c.1670), was one of the earliest exponents of Neapolitan flower paintings. In 1650 Porpora moved to Rome where he encountered the work of Dutch flower painters. Their influence can be seen in this sparkling and luscious still life, which is larger than most Dutch flower paintings. On a ledge sits an urn containing a vast array of flowers, including dahlias, irises, campanulas, narcissus, calendulas, chrysanthemums, peonies, tuberoses and tulips. The urn is decorated with a relief showing a Bacchanal of the Putti, a playful scene that is based on a design by the Flemish sculptor François Duquesnoy (1597–1643). The painting has a dark underside, with danger and decay suggested by the snake darting out from below the urn to snap at the moth, and the dry leaves within the arrangement, which are just beginning to curl.

Paolo Porpora Still Life with Flowers in an Urn, Butterflies and a Snake About 1650s © Compton Verney