Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Still Life (pt. 1)

The Baroque age in art also saw the surge of the Still Life.  A still life is a painting of an arrangement of inanimate objects usually showcased on a tabletop or other flat surface in an enclosed space.  We have all seen paintings like this before and may have thought them simple or even boring enough, but "surely all this is not without meaning."
In this case, the "subject" is whatever is pictured in the image.  The subject of a still life can be a glass cup, a vase of flowers, a book, a skull, or (most popularly) an assortment of objects.  To the untrained eye these items can at first appear random, but as you will see, some still life paintings ambitiously tackle more subject matter, artistic form, color scheme, and picturesque detail than landscapes or historical paintings.
Still lifes—and I distinguish: the plural of "still life" is not "still lives"—can offer a unique blend of genres for both artist and viewer.  By simply painting immobile objects on a stationary table or drawer-top, the artist can have the chance of practicing his trade on something decidedly easier than, say, a portrait, where a live sitter is involved (who coughs, moves, easily becomes bored, and can distract the painter from his duty).  In the case of a still life, the objects are all completely motionless; the artist can take all day, or even a year—it matters not: the objects will still be there.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for continuing to write this blog. I find it to be very interesting and I enjoy reading it often but what caught my attention this time was the Still Life portrait with the overturned silver bowl. More specifically, the pattern of the bowl. I have a small silver ring with a similar pattern, which is uniquely Dutch, that I obtained in Holland. Curiosity set in; how far back does this pattern go? You did not, unless I missed it, identify this painting so I looked it up. What I found was a very similar painting, the bowl is still upright, by a Dutch painter- William Claesz Heda 1590-1680. Wow! I know this silver pattern from the traditional costume of the men in the province of Zeeland, or 'Sea Land'. 18th century men of means wore this pattern as gold buttons on their collars and very large silver buttons at their waist. So it is known as the Zeeuwse Knoop, or Zeeland Button. I'm looking forward to learning more from you. :)