Gabriel von Max
(German, born Bohemia,
Botaniker (The Botanists)
Oil on canvas
25 x 31 3/4 in. (63.5 x 80.65 cm)
Founding Collection, Gift of Charles and Emma Frye, 1952.117
In this realistically rendered painting, five monkeys have knocked over a blue and white porcelain vase, pouring out mostly pink peonies, with a few white, purple, blue, and red flowers. The scene is set inside, the background is dark, but the subjects are illuminated. An arched window on the far-left side shows a light blue sky and green-leafed tree outside. The monkeys have medium-length, light gray fur with peach faces and are engaged with the flowers. Describing the monkeys, moving from left to right: two youthful-looking monkeys seem to be investigating something in the vase; the middle monkey is slightly larger and holds in their right hand a pink bud and long green leaves that they’ve started to eat; the smallest monkey, likely an infant, sits in the largest monkey’s lap and looks directly at the viewer despite the big monkey’s efforts to show them the peony bloom in their hand.