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Founder Jane Fortune in Pitti storeroom admiring Oosterwych’s work

Oosterwich and Florence

What is Oosterwich’s connection to Florence? Cut flowers were highly prized, albiet extremely rare and expensive—a sign of extravagance and affluence. Aristocratic patrons such as Cosimo III enjoyed gardens featuring some of the blossoms painted, as well as libraries containing botanical texts with their drawings. During Oosterwych’s time, an interest in horticulture and botany accelerated among both aristocrats and middle class merchants, as part of a general excitement for the natural sciences. Scientists employed artists to record their careful, systematic observations of natural phenomena in accurate, detailed drawings and paintings. Certainly, Cosimo III wanted to be in the ranks with other royals who sought out and purchased Oosterwych’s paintings. When the future Grand Duke returned to Amsterdam for a second sojourn two years later, he is thought to have bought the work under consideration for restoration, Flowers, Fruit and Insects. Cosimo III’s father had been a lover of still-life paintings and his fondness for bloom-based themes did much to boost the genre’s popularity. Florence or Firenze, was known as the ‘Flowering City’ and flower paintings were considered a reminder of its grandeur.