Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a young girl with flowers 1690c.

Circle of Simon Verelst 

Portrait of a young girl with flowers, Circle of Simon Verelst
Oil on canvas
17th Century
39 1/2 x 32 inches 100 x 81 cm
Private Collection.
From its tonality, and from the combination of portrait with flower painting, this portrait recalls the work of Simon Verelst, and would appear to have been painted by an artist under his influence. Verelst was born in the Hague and trained with his elder brother Harman in the studio of his father, the portrait painter Peter Verelst. Whilst Harman forged a career as a painter of portraits at the Hapsburg court in Vienna, Simon travelled to London in 1669 and quickly established a reputation as a talented painter of flowers, still-lifes and subsequently portraits.

Samuel Pepys makes an accurate summation of Verelst's ability and expense on a trip to St James''s market on Easter day, April 11 1669; ''...a Dutchman newly come over, one Evarelst (sic) , who took us to his lodging close by, and did shew us a little flower-pot of his doing, the finest thing that ever, I think, I saw in my life: the drops of dew hanging on the leaves, so as I was forced, again and again to put my finger to it, to feel whether my eyes were deceived or no. He do ask 70 for it: I had the vanity to bid him 20; but a better picture I never saw in my whole life; and it is worth going twenty miles to see it.''

(The Diary of Samuel Pepys).

As a painter of flowers, he became the most distinguished and expensive in London, finding particular favour with the Duke of Buckingham and Duchess of Portsmouth. The success of his rich renditions of flowers in the French style is said to have threatened to eclipse the eminence of Sir Peter Lely in court circles. Sadly Verelst began to suffer from increasing bouts of insanity which was reflected in his painting flowers on a gigantic scale, and he is known to have been incarcerated on several occasions.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.