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Adelheid Dietrich

Adelheid Dietrich (1827-1891), Still Life of Flowers, 1868, oil on wood, John Wilmerding Collection

Born in Wittenberg, Germany, Adelheid Dietrich was the daughter and pupil of the painter Eduard Dietrich (1803–1877). Some fifty works by Dietrich are known. Nearly all are flower paintings characterized by a crystalline intensity and painted in the finest detail and with extraordinary technical facility. These botanical subjects are much in the manner of seventeenth-century Dutch still-life painters, particularly as filtered through the eyes of nineteenth-century northern European artists.

Still Life with Flowers includes about a dozen varieties of grasses and blooms of varied colors and textures. In its baroque profusion this work is typical of the sense of abundance that characterizes much still life in the second half of the nineteenth century, but Dietrich’s images also have an exquisite grace and delicacy. She often painted complex works, some with flower-strewn rocks seen against blue skies, but her most effective still lifes seem to be her smaller, more compact compositions, placed in quiet interiors. The present example, and others of around this date, often utilize a wonderfully illusionistic glass vase at the center of the arrangement and a single source of light illuminating the blossoms against a dark background.

 
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