Published: February 1, 2018

Nature Morte in the 15-16th centuries

In the 15-16th centuries still life paintings were widespread mainly as a part of pictural composition. It was separated in the independent genre in the XVII century in Holland. There still life was especially loved and appreciated. Dutches called it "stilleven" that meant "quiet life". The name reflected the love and very special attitude of the Dutch artists to the wonderful world of things.

Nature Morte in the 15-16th centuries

Banquet Still Life with a View onto a Landscape, Jan Davidsz. de Heem

But interest in still life appeared in the Dutch painting much earlier. Artists entered such details as flowers, fruits, vessels into surrounding of a religious scene. These objects helped to introduce something worldly, light and joyful in the image. So, Joos van Cleve (1464 — apprx. 1540) in his composition "Mother and Child with Joseph" (the Hermitage, St. Petersburg) showed the cut orange and a small knife with the nacreous handle on a parapet, near barefoot legs of the baby Christ. Right there the blossoming aquilegia branch lies. While such detail as a carnation in hands of the Mother of God, makes symbolical sense, other objects presented on a picture for the only purpose — to decorate it.

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art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

J. van Cleve. "Madonna s mladentsem and Iosif", the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Many Dutch artists of the 15-16th centuries, seeking to make the image more convincing, paid much attention to the things surrounding the person. For example, the famous Dutch painter Quinten Matsys (1465-1530) who painted his well-known picture "Moneychanger with the Wife" (Louvre, Paris) in 1514 carefully wrote out the objects spread out on a table before the moneychanger and his spouse: a small mirror, silver coins, [Expand]


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Quinten Matsys "Moneychanger with the Wife", 1514, Louvre

The similar type of the image of tax collectors, moneychangers and similar plots with large figures of people and things spread out in the forefront was widely adopted among Matsys's followers. So, "Tax collectors" by Marinus van Reymerswaele (about 1493 - about 1570), exhibited at the Hermitage, not only shows characteristic types of collectors with their sharp features, a piercing look and hooked fingers, but also coins on [Expand]


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

M. van Reymerswaele. "Tax collectors", the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Nevertheless, similar still lifes did not play an independent role in works by artists of the 15-16th centuries. They are subordinated to household plots and serve as additions to images of human figures.


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Artist of P. Aertsen's circle. "The fish shop", the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Emergence of an actual still life is connected with a name of Pieter Aertsen. Most of researchers consider him the founder of this genre. Before emergence of Artsen's works it is possible to speak only about increasing number of objects in religious and household compositions. In creativity of this master and also his younger compatriot Joachim Beuckelaer (apprx. 1530 — apprx. 1573) the main place is [Expand]


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Frans Snyders. "The fish shop", about 1616, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

The viewer feels that the enthusiasm for showing the food spread out on a table (seafood, various vegetables and fruit) prevails over the aspiration to characterize the people occupied with the choice of products.


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Unknown Dutch artist of the 17th century. "Fishmonger". Fragment, the 1630th, the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

The shop motive is reflected in creativity of the Dutch masters of a still life of the 17th century. The picture of the unknown artist which received the name "Fishmonger" is stored in collection of the Hermitage. The author shows to the viewer two plans in which action is happening at the same time. Figures of the seller and the customer are presented near the table with the spread-out [Expand]


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Hans Gillis Boloner, "The Bouquet", 1644, Harlem. Frans Hals's museum

There is no other country on our planet where painters pay so much attention to the image of the inanimate world. The pictures showing flowers, fruit, vegetables and dishware were enormously popular only in Holland.


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Ambrosius Bosschaert de Oude, "The Vase with flowers in a window niche", about 1620, the Hague, Royal gallery Mauritskheys

In Middelburg where these masters lived, Johannes Goudart worked, who became famous not only as a still life painter, but also as the famous entomologist. He presented the researches in this field in the work published in 1666 accompanied with 150 author's drawings of plants, insects, butterflies shown at the time of their transformations.

The main motive of [Expand]


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Peter Klas van Harlem, 'The Breakfast', 1646, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Willem Klas Heda, "The still life with a gilded cup", 1635, the State museum of Amsterdam

Similar works and also "kitchen" still lifes with several fishes as, for example, in compositions of the Rotterdam artists Peter de Putter and Willem Ormea, reflected Puritan tastes of democratic public of the first half of the 17th century.


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Jan Trek, "The still life with a tin jar and two porcelain dishes", 1649, National gallery, London

Willem Ormea (first mentioned in 1638, died in 1673) often worked together with Adam Villarts (1577–1664). The first usually represented catches of fish, the second showed sea landscapes. Collaboration of artists was characteristic of the Dutch painting of the XVII century. It is known that the third master, Hemskerk, helped Villarts and Ormea to create the picture "Fishes on the Sea Coast" [Expand]


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

V. Ormea and A. Villarts. "Fishes on the sea coast", 1649, the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

The significant role in development of the Dutch still life was played by the famous portraitist Frans Hals who paid much attention to the objective world in his early works which is confirmed by beautiful images of food on his pictures painted in the first quarter of the XVII century. Later Hals quit the specification in showing environment and directed all the attention to the characteristic of the [Expand]


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Frans Hals, "The banquet of officers of rifle company of Saint George", 1616, Museum F. Hals, Harlem

A number of the Amsterdam painters worked in traditions of a tonal still life. Rembrandt painting during the early period of the creativity pictures with images of scientists entered into compositions various attributes as books, globes, etc. Living in Amsterdam, the great Dutch artist created several real still lifes which became a sample for his pupils and followers.

"Breakfasts" of [Expand]


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Jan Trek, "The Breakfast", the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Tonal still lifes were written also by the Leiden master Francis Gueisbrechts. Dates of his birth and death are unknown and there are few of his pictures remained. But the works which reached us, despite composite simplicity and modesty of the things represented on them strike with the grace.

Such is the "Still life" which is stored in a collection of the Hermitage. The viewer sees a set of objects in a picture. Here is cheese, [Expand]


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

F. Gueisbrechts. "The still life", the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Pictures with the image of meat hulks became a special type of a still life in art of Holland. Such works were created at the initial stage of the career by Rembrandt. In this genre also the Haarlem artists — brothers Adrian (1610-1685) and Izak (1621-1649) van Ostada who painted a picture "The shed with the playing children" (the Hermitage, St. Petersburg) worked.


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

A. van Ostade and I. van Ostade. "The shed with the playing children", the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

In Rotterdam the "kitchen" still life representing the image of internal space of the country house with pieces of the house utensils spread out on a floor was developed. Usually artists placed a figure of the person in composition — it was the hostess dressed in a modest country dress. But all attention went not to her, but to things. Masters painted ware (basins, bowls, barrels, wooden [Expand]


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

H. Saftleven. "The interior of the country hut". Fragment, 1634, Hermitage, St. Petersburg

With further strengthening of the Dutch bourgeoisie requirements to painting change. The simple, unpretentious still life gives way to the images striking with luxury of the presented things and richness of paints. Before modest "breakfasts" turn into colourful pictures in which the viewer sees the tables covered with carpet cloths with expensive objects spread out on them. Here are the Delft faience [Expand]


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Abraham Hendrix van Beyeren, "The magnificent still life", about 1655, Amsterdam, State museum

Such elegant still lifes were painted by Willem Kalf, Abraham van Beyeren, Hendrik van Strek with big skill.


art1742   User Rating: 728  February 1, 2018

Willem Kalf, "The still life with a jug and fruit", about 1650, Amsterdam, the State museum

At preparation of this post the same materials, as in the previous post, were used.


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