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Little is known of Wainwright except that there are many similar works signed and dated by him from 1845 to 1873. As in the case of his model Jan van Os (1744-1808), who was well known in England, these arrangements are artificial creations combining the flowers of different seasons, displayed in a precious vessel too small to hold them comfortably. In the Dutch tradition such pieces were often representations of the horticultural collections of wealthy patrons, but Wainwright seems to have embraced this highly traditional style for purely decorative reasons. At the same time his pictures are 'modern' in the sense that the flowers tend to be recognizable Victorian specimens.

August 2004