1818 – Vienna – 1881
- “Flower Still Life with Roses”
- signed lower left “Lauer”
- oil on canvas
- 14 ½ × 18 ½ in
In the 19th century, the longing for a piece of nature in one’s own home meant that great importance was attached to still life and landscape painting. One of the most important painters of this genre was Josef Lauer. He provided an important impetus for the evolution of still life painting when, for the first time, he incorporated bouquets of flowers into landscapes.
This atmospheric floral piece displays artfully arranged, splendid roses and ivy in a woven basket that has fallen over on the forest floor. An European peacock is fluttering around the blossoms. The dark background draws out the luminous colors of the true-to-life plants depicted here. In addition to the coloring, the materiality of the objects also stands out. The butterfly lends additional “life” to the image. The blue cloth draped artfully underneath the basket breaks up the ensemble with regard to both form and color and provides further emphasis. The peacock butterfly is a traditional symbol of resurrection; one finds examples of it used as a symbol of the soul even in ancient Egypt.
The popular still life painter Josef Lauer studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna under Sebastian Wegmayr, Joseph Mössmer, Thomas Ender and Franz Steinfeld. He was a member of the Vienna Künstlerhaus from 1861 and died in his native city in 1881.