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History of Still-Life

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Flanders C16- Installed quite religious and common settings into thepieces, the extremely detailed oil on canvas works were often home tokitchen-like objects and utensils. Different foods such as cabbages,fish and hares were used especially to capture reflection from thesurrounding light, thus creating a very real, almost touchableeffect. Drink glasses were layered repeatedly to produce a realistictransparency; yet another method in generating such detailed realismin the piece.

Dutch C17-In this period, the artists had not completely cast off andthrown away any such relation to religion; they just concentratedsorely on the idea of symbolism and reflection of light. To amodern-day viewer, the still-life would appear to be an assortment ofstrange objects placed on a wooden table. But to the seventeenth-century Dutch observer, the paintings conveyed the theme of vanitas:objects that symbolized the vanity of worldly things and the brevityof life. The skull and bones refer to death, the books and writinginstruments to excessive pride through learning, and the fragile glassgoblet of wine to temporary pleasure. A golden cup on its side wouldsuggest immoderate wealth, and a man smoking a pipe displays idleness.The obsessive layering of oil paints by the artists was their way ofcreating accuracy and perfection. As modern day people have found,the pigments suspended in the oil paints, which have lasted untilcurrent years have slowly turned brown, and therefore have demandedattention in the form of cleaning.

France C18-19- Adopting basically the same principle of painting,although lesser applied, Jean Simeon Chardin, a self taught artistsituated in Paris acquired his acclaimed reputation as still life’sforemost artist. Self-taught, his thick, rather textured techniquesuited every middle and capital class (bourgeoisie (who made theFrench revolution and Impressionism)) household. Many pieces wereminuscule, and all his pieces showed off his skills as an artist.Elevating to look at such as “The Jar of Apricot” and “The Ray”(1758), the depth and use of reflections were mesmerising andpeaceful.

Paris turn of C20-This was the phase when artists really started toadopt new styles to express there ideas. Braque, Picasso, Cezanne,Picasso and Matisse were the fore founders, innovating cubism, blockcolours, experimental studio time, and a different way of perceivingart by twisting the laws of perspective. Now artists would churn outmany more pieces, for now, no longer would apiece take months andmonths to complete. Particular pieces of the above artists’ workinclude: “Lemons against a Fleur De Lys background” (Matisse-1943),“Still Life with a Chair Caning” (Picasso 1911-12), and “Still-lifewith a Plaster Cupid” (Cezanne-1895).

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