This monumental watercolor depicts a hollyhock spire (Althea rosea) containing a fully opened blossom and other buds and blossoms in various states of emergence and decline. The spire "grows" magically from the blank sheet of paper, casting a shadow to the right. At its base are a few seeds and a faded blossom fallen to the ground. The florid cursive signature and date by Saftleven at the bottom left complement the arabesque sway of the hollyhock spire. Every leaf and petal seem to tingle with life, and this sense of vivid animation is heightened by the deep reds and greens of the blossoms and foliage.
Watercolor, gouache and black chalk framing lines on three sides (September 21, 1682)
by Herman Saftleven the Younger (Dutch, 1609-1685)
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