Art1204 the noble stillness baroque still-life painting
Art Appreciation – ART1204
Professor Will Adams
The Noble Stillness
Baroque Still Life Painting
n Baroque works were produced during the 17th and 18th centuries.
n The term Baroque comes from the Portuguese word “barocca”, which
means “an irregular pearl”.
n The first Baroque works appeared in Italy and the style spread
north into Europe.
n Baroque still-life was hugely popular in the Netherlands and Flemish
n Still-life had symbolic meanings that people at the time
understood, which usually taught moral lessons.
Characteristics of Baroque Painting
n Painting from life
n Extreme detail
n Dynamic arrangement
n Rich colors
Famous Early Italian Baroque Paintings
Caravaggio’s “The Conversion of
Saul”, c. 1600
Artemisia Gentellischi’s “Judith
Beheading Holofernes”, 1614-1620
n Dead animals from a hunt were a
n They are a great way to show off
n Be sure to look for:
• Textures like feathers, tassels, velvet,
• Strong composition
• Hidden details
• Chiaroscuro lighting effects
Frans Snyders’ “Still Life With Dead Game, Fruits And
Vegetables In A Market”, 1614
The Symbolism of Fruit
n Traditionally, this is what
we usually think of when
we hear “still-life”.
n Originally fruit was
symbolic of the good,
sweet things in life,
abundance, sexuality, or
Examples of Fruit Still-Life
Caravaggio’s “Still-Life with
Willem van Aelst’s “Still-Life with
Fruit & Crystal Vase”, 1652
Baroque Lighting Effects
n Look at the way the light affects how we see
the different forms.
• See how the light affect the textures,
• Notice how the light and shadow affect the
mood of the painting.
Jan Davidsz de Heem’s “Still Life with Fruit and
Notice The Composition
n Composition is the arrangement of elements and objects
around the picture plane.
n Your eye travels from one point to another around the
picture in a clockwise path.
n Good composition keeps your eye moving on a harmonious
n The triangle is a traditionally strong compositional
Let’s play a
Can You Find The
Find The Bug!
n Insects were often added to a table setting within
the still-life’s composition.
n They symbolized the decadence of the “good life”
n They also warned the viewer of the temptations of
too much sweetness
n In essence, they represent having “Too much of a
The Five Senses
n As still-life became more popular and began to evolve, its symbolism
became more profound.
n Objects symbolizing the five human senses were arranged on a table:
n Objects were chosen to symbolize pleasure.
Ways To Control Eye Movement
n Folds of cloth
n Positioning of objects, bodies
n Repetition of colors
n Emphasis from either highlights or shadows
n Height of objects
n Details, textures, or negative space
n Eyes or gazes
Vanitas Still Life
n This type of still life was meant to remind the
viewer of the fleeting quality of life.
n Life is wonderful, but goes by very quickly!?
n Vanitas is about the swift approach of DEATH!
Hendrick Andriezsoon’s “Still-life Composition With Human Skull, Globe, Books, Crown,
Miter, Bubbles, Mussel Shell With Bubble Pipe, Holly Crown On Skull, Watch On Table,
Candlestick (With Reflection Of Artist’s Portrait)”, 1650
Modern Vanitas Still Life
Audrey Flack’s “Queen”, 1975 - 1976
Audrey Flack’s “Marilyn (Vanitas)”,
“If I think more about
death than some other
people, it is probably
because I love life more
than they do.”
Vanitas Still Life Homework
n Plan and create (either by drawing,
collaging, painting, or photographing)
a vanitas, either for yourself,
someone you know, or someone famous.
n Your still-life should be based on
your own life and community, and
should measure no smaller than 8” x
n On the back of your vanitas, list
and explain the objects/elements
you included, and what they
n Be sure to include the same
compositional elements that the
Dutch Masters did:
• Compositional paths
• Vanitas elements
• Five senses elements
n Your still-life will be due at the
beginning of next class.