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.