Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 278

 ‒   
 .
Dahlias in a basket
(Kurv med georginer)
Oil on canvas,
¾ in. (
Signed and dated: I. L, Jensen
       :
Bruun Rasmussen, Auction
, lot
, ill.
         :
Heidrun Ludwig, “Still Life Painting in the Eighteenth Century,” in: Jochen Sander (ed.),
The Magic of Things
Städel Museum Frankfurt and Kunstmuseum Basel,
ith diminutive variations, the wicker basket in this picture is similar to the one used by Jensen in
Life with Pineapple
(cat. no.
), a decorative, but also useful basket that he used many
times, just as the flower painters before him. Here it is filled with a magnificent selection of pompom
dahlias. Once in a while, Jensen elected to concentrate on a single species, e.g. the blushing moss rose,
poppy, camellia, rare orchids or just a delicate violet. To work with just one or two colors, apart from the
green foliage, was for Jensen an important alternative to the grand, diverse displays of splendor. In this dis-
play it revolves around how rich a color scale a single species of dahlia can exhibit.
The Lord’s nature sets the palette, but it is the painter who can show us the beauty of it, show us how
each petal in the orbicular flower has its own shape, and refracts the light in its own way, depending on
where in the bouquet the light is: in the orange one, slightly displaced from the center, just by the handle
of the basket, the white one, the pink, the shaded yellow and the illuminated yellow, or the crimson, almost
black. They are all twisted and turned so that we see the flower in all its aspects, and in all stages from bud
to fully sprung flower. Just there, Jensen stops the cycle of nature. The aspect of decay does not interest
Jensen delights in counter posing around a central axis, and tells us of balances in color, opposite each
other, in an alluring manner. This results in a euphony that is neither to be expected, nor trite or com-
The other Jensen pictures of the Loeb Collection are either displays of plucked flowers and harvested
fruit, placed on a sill indoors, or plants and flowers that are still situated in their site of growth. The picture
in question here belongs to a third category. The plucked flower in the basket is placed outside, on a large,
flat stone, overgrown with ivy. But where is the stone located? In the indeterminable darkness of the forest
floor, or a gloomy corner of a park? There stands the basket, in an unrealistically theatrical light that makes
the flowers tangible and untouchable at the same time.
The dahlia came to Europe from the highlands of Central America through Spain in
, and then
were believed to have edible roots. The wild dahlia is a single flower, but by
gardeners had bred the dou-
ble-flowered dahlia. In
, a dahlia landed in the garden of the famous German author and scientist,
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (
). His gardener, August Friedrich Dreyssig (
), used it for
breeding, and in
, he had
cultivars in his assortment,
of which were double-flowered. The dahlia
was en vogue in the gardens of laymen and scholars.
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