still-life painting

Depiction of inanimate objects for the sake of their qualities of form, colour, texture, composition, and sometimes allegorical or symbolical significance.

Still lifes were painted in ancient Greece and Rome. In the Middle Ages they occur in the borders of illuminated manuscripts. The modern still life emerged as an independent genre in the Renaissance. Netherlandish still lifes often depicted skulls, candles, and hourglasses as allegories of mortality, or flowers and fruits to symbolize nature's cycle. Several factors contributed to the rise of still life in the 16th–17th century: an interest in realistic representation, the rise of a wealthy middle class that wanted artworks to decorate its homes, and increased demand for paintings of secular subjects other than portraits in the wake of the Reformation. Dutch and Flemish painters were the masters of still life in the 17th century. From the 18th century until the rise of nonobjective painting after World War II, France was the centre of still-life painting.

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      depiction of inanimate objects for the sake of their qualities of form, colour, texture, and composition. Although decorative fresco murals and mosaics with still-life subjects occasionally appeared in antiquity, it was not until the Renaissance that still life emerged as an independent painting genre, rather than existing primarily as a subsidiary element in a composition. Early Netherlandish still-life paintings depicted skulls, candles, and hourglasses as allegories of mortality, or combined flowers and fruits of all seasons to symbolize nature's cycle (see vanitas). An interest in observing and then realistically representing the material details of the environment, the rise of a wealthy middle class who desired art works to decorate their homes, and an increasing demand for secular subjects in painting other than portraiture as a result of the prolonged effects of the Reformation—all were factors that contributed to the rise of still-life painting in the 16th and 17th centuries. The painting generally considered to be the first still life is a work by the Italian painter Jacopo de'Barbari painted 1504. The “golden age” of still-life painting occurred in the Lowlands during the 17th century.

      Among the most famous Dutch and Flemish painters who specialized in still-life subjects were Willem Heda, Willem Kalf, Jan Fyt, Frans Snyders, Jan Weenix, Melchior d'Hondecoeter, Jan van Huysum, and the de Heem family. From the 18th century until the rise of Nonobjective painting after World War II, France became the centre of still-life painting. Most major artists who at some time resided there during this 250-year period executed still lifes—e.g., J.-B.-S. Chardin, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, and Pierre Bonnard.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • still life — still′ life′ n. pl. still lifes 1) fia a representation chiefly of inanimate objects, as a painting of a bowl of fruit 2) fia the category of subject matter in which inanimate objects are represented, as in painting or photography • Etymology:… …   From formal English to slang

  • still life — still life, adj. pl. still lifes. 1. a representation chiefly of inanimate objects, as a painting of a bowl of fruit. 2. the category of subject matter in which inanimate objects are represented, as in painting or photography. [1635 45] * * * …   Universalium

  • still life — still lifes N VAR A still life is a painting or drawing of an arrangement of objects such as flowers or fruit. It also refers to this type of painting or drawing …   English dictionary

  • still life — the genre of painting, has the plural form still lifes …   Modern English usage

  • still life — ► NOUN ▪ a painting or drawing of an arrangement of objects such as flowers or fruit …   English terms dictionary

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