A Dictamnus ca. 1620–30
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This watercolor of a blossoming Fraxinella (Dictamnus albus)—also known as a burning bush or gas plant in light of the highly flammable oil the plant secretes—belongs to a large group of drawings of individual flora and fauna by the flower still life specialist Balthasar van der Ast. This group originally comprised at least 483 sheets, each inscribed with the name, in Dutch, of the specimen(s) represented, with the monogram "BA," and with a number (the 214 on the present sheet is covered by a small pasted-on piece of paper at lower left). These drawings (71 of which are in the Frits Lugt Collection, Paris), were long attributed to the Dordrecht painter Bartholomeus Assteyn (1607-ca. 1667), but as Michiel Plomp demonstrated in 2001, the quality of their execution and the close relationship of certain examples to paintings by Van der Ast leave no doubt as to their authorship.
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