This still life is probably one of the only signed paintings by Flemish flower painter Maria-Theresia van Thielen. It is truly a jewel of the collection!
Maria-Theresia van Thielen was one of three daughters of flower painter Jan Philips van Thielen. Her two sisters also became painters. The skillful and interesting composition of our painting sets it apart from most flower paintings by the van Thielen family; this may be why Maria-Theresia prominently signed it here on the pillar. There you can see “M.T. von Thielen” along with F. (for fecit, which is Latin for “made in”), Ano (short for Anno Domini, or A.D.) and the year, 1661.
Alas, the Milwaukee Art Museum does not own a Caravaggio painting.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610) was a revolutionary painter who combined theatrical compositions and lighting with realistic depictions of humans to make some of the most dramatic and memorable paintings from the early Baroque period.
But no need to despair! Many artists who traveled to Italy in the 17th century—and lots who didn’t—were inspired to use the style of the great artist Caravaggio. The Milwaukee Art Museum has great paintings by some of these northern European artists, which hang in Gallery #5 with Northern Baroque paintings. Two of them—Christ before the High Priest by Mathias Stom and Mars, God of War by Gerrit von Honthorst—are by well-known artists of the phenomenon.
Satellite students have been tagging, talking, and sketching in the past two weeks at the Museum. Traveling through Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and France (virtually, of course), we’ve looked at figural paintings, portraits, and still lifes, and have even done some time-traveling to compare artwork hundreds of years apart.