Leading VFX firm MPC has animated the Dutch Golden Age master, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s Vase With Flowers in a Window, to create an film directed by artists Rob and Nick Carter. 

Creating the piece took the artists two years. The project involved several thousands of hours of digital rendering, more than a feature length animated film. Every aspect of Bosschaert’s painting has been brought to life including each flower stem, insect and the scenery.

The film lasts three hours and takes the painted scene from early morning darkness through to noon (where the film exactly resembles the original painting) into dusk and late night. Although only perceptible upon sustained looking, the scene displays subtle shifts as the clouds pass by, the sun moves in the sky and the stars emerge. Each flower has been based on actual timelapse footage of flowers throughout the course of the day, marking subtle shifts in bloom and direction as they turn to face the sun.

Every few minutes the still life displays real time activity, such as caterpillar entering the scene and proceeding to eat leaves or a snail emerging from its shell to leave a trail across the arched window. One can mark the passing of time by the water level in the vase slowly diminishing.

The artwork attempts to address issues of the boundaries between the real and the imagined, analogue and digital, the traditional and the progressive and the very nature of art itself. By painstakingly re-rendering every component of the painting the whole process draws attention to the mastery of the original and allows us to consider it in a new light.

The artwork will make its debut at the TEFAF art fair in Maastricht on March 16. The work is being displayed by apppoinment only at The Fine Art Society gallery in London.