Jan van Huysum, the most successful flower painter in history, was notoriously secretive. Unwilling to let others know how he was able to achieve the high degree of realism with which he rendered the minute details of individual petals, drops of water, and tiny insects, he took on no students and restricted access to his studio.
The spectacular MFAH painting Still Life of Flowers and Fruit epitomizes Van Huysum's imaginative floral arrangements, lively effects of light and dark, and rich opulence of handling. His contemporaries never learned how he created the highly finished, enameled surfaces that distinguish his luscious still lifes. No other artist matched his technical virtuosity nor his ability to create luxuriant arrangements of fruit and flowers. Van Huysum’s work was enormously popular with connoisseurs and collectors in his day, and it is said that he was the most highly paid Dutch artist of all time.