Flowers in a Glass Beaker
c. 1620
Peter Binoit (German, 1590/93-1632/39)
On View

Self-reflection preoccupied early 17th-century Catholics and Protestants alike, and the still-life genre was ideally suited to stimulate such contemplation. Though flowers, especially the fashionable tulip, were treasured as precious, even collectible, objects, they also served symbolic functions. This composed bouquet, enlivened with flying and crawling creatures, contains symbols associated with the brevity of life and spiritual preparation for death.

Read in this way, the fallen sprigs allude to decay and transience, underscored by the fact that the depicted flowers bloom briefly and in different seasons. The snail and fly signify laziness and sin. These negative references are balanced by other motifs that hold the promise of heaven. The iris is a symbol of the Virgin Mary and of hope, and the red carnation customarily refers to Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. The butterfly and dragonfly embody the salvation of the soul, due to their maturation from flightless to winged insects.


  • Artist Name: Peter Binoit (German, 1590/93-1632/39)
  • Title: Flowers in a Glass Beaker
  • Date: c. 1620
  • Medium: Oil on copper
  • Dimensions: 12-1/4 x 9 in. (31.1 x 22.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1973.26.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Count Camille du Chastel de la Howarderie, 1873, by inheritance to;
Count Albert du Chastel de la Howarderie (1857-1946), to his daughter;
Thérèse du Chastel de la Howarderie (1889-1924), who in 1912 married Marcel, Marquis de Castellane-Esparron (1884-1951), Brussels, by descent to;
Albert de Castellane-Esparron (1924-1991), presumably still in 1960;
[P. de Boer, Switzerland, by 1956 (possibly on consignment from Castellane); consigned to P. de Boer, Amsterdam, 1963; sold 1963/1964 to];
Becker Collection, Dortmund, sold 1973 through;
[G. Cramer, The Hague, to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Exposition de tableaux et dessins d' anciens maîtres

  • La Société Néerlandaise de Bienfaisance à Bruxelles, 1873 to

Moderne van Toen, 1570-1630, Vlaamse schilderkunst en haar invloed

  • Laren, North Holland, Singer Museum, 1963-06-15 to 1963-09-01

[on loan]

  • Princeton University Art Museum, 1973-10-09 to 1974-07-17

Significant Objects: The Spell of Still Life

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2012-07-20 to 2013-01-21

Tulips are in Bloom

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-04-29 to 1993-08
  • Exposition de tableaux et dessins d'anciens ma Oetres, 1873, no. 224
  • La Société Néerlandaise de Biengaisance à Bruxelles, Exposition de tableaux et dessins d' anciens maîtres, 1873, no. 224 (attr. to Abraham Brueghel)
  • Bol, Laurens, The Bosschaert Dynasty, 1960, no. 19, pl. 13 pp. 62, 31, 87
  • Boer, P. de, Catalogue of Old Pictures, 1963, no. 3
  • Singer Museum, Moderne van Toen, 1570-1630, Vlaamse schilderkunst en haar invloed, 1963, no. 26, col. ill 5 (private collection)
  • Fritz, R., Sammlung Becker: I Gemalde, Alter Meister, 1967, no. 55
  • Norton Simon Museum, Selected Paintings at the Norton Simon Museum, 1980, p. 50
  • R. Karson, Garden Design, 1984, p. 59
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 69
  • Gaskell, Ivan, Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Painting, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, 1990, no. 10 p. 50
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 980 p. 359
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