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Still life

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**Historical Development of Still Life:**
– Ancient Egyptian and Greek artworks depicted still life elements for various purposes.
– Roman and Middle Ages artists incorporated still life into religious and secular contexts.
– Renaissance artists like Giotto and van Eyck introduced realistic still-life depictions.
– By the late 16th century, still life became a distinct genre in Western art.
– Symbolism and realism played significant roles in the evolution of still-life painting.

**Evolution of Still Life Techniques and Styles:**
– Use of found objects, photography, and computer graphics in modern still-life works.
– Different types of still life paintings with symbolic elements.
– Trompe-l’œil painting aimed to deceive viewers with lifelike scenes.
– Various genres within still life, such as kitchen scenes, vanitas paintings, and allegorical collections.
Flower painting became popular in the 17th century, especially in Dutch and Flemish art.

**Regional Influences in Still Life Painting:**
– Dutch and Flemish artists developed still life as a distinct category.
– Southern European influences, like Spanish bodegón paintings, added diversity to still-life art.
– Notable artists and works from different regions, such as Rubens, Rembrandt, and Bosschaert.
– Italian still-life painting’s historical context and notable artists like Caravaggio.
– Spread of still life painting across Europe, showcasing diverse styles and techniques.

**Notable Artists and Works in Still Life Painting:**
– Recognition of artists like Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, and Ambrosius Bosschaert for their contributions to still life.
– Specific works like ‘A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms’ and ‘Still-Life of Flowers’ highlighted.
– Anne Vallayer-Coster’s unique style and transition to floral studies in the 18th century.
– Rococo influence on still life, emphasizing floral decoration and trompe-l’œil techniques.
– Transition of still-life painting styles in the 19th century, focusing on everyday foods and floral studies.

**Themes and Symbolism in Still Life Painting:**
– Themes like vanitas, abundance, and ornate compositions in different still-life genres.
– Symbolism of flowers and objects used in still-life paintings.
– Religious and allegorical connotations present in earlier still-life works.
– Shift towards more secular and decorative still-life subjects in the 18th and 19th centuries.
– Hierarchical perception of still life as a genre throughout different historical periods.

Still life (Wikipedia)

A still life (pl.: still lifes) is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which are either natural (food, flowers, dead animals, plants, rocks, shells, etc.) or human-made (drinking glasses, books, vases, jewelry, coins, pipes, etc.).

Juan Sánchez Cotán, Still Life with Game Fowl, Vegetables and Fruits (1602), Museo del Prado Madrid

With origins in the Middle Ages and Ancient Greco-Roman art, still-life painting emerged as a distinct genre and professional specialization in Western painting by the late 16th century, and has remained significant since then. One advantage of the still-life artform is that it allows an artist much freedom to experiment with the arrangement of elements within a composition of a painting. Still life, as a particular genre, began with Netherlandish painting of the 16th and 17th centuries, and the English term still life derives from the Dutch word stilleven. Early still-life paintings, particularly before 1700, often contained religious and allegorical symbolism relating to the objects depicted. Later still-life works are produced with a variety of media and technology, such as found objects, photography, computer graphics, as well as video and sound.

The term includes the painting of dead animals, especially game. Live ones are considered animal art, although in practice they were often painted from dead models. Because of the use of plants and animals as a subject, the still-life category also shares commonalities with zoological and especially botanical illustration. However, with visual or fine art, the work is not intended merely to illustrate the subject correctly.

Still life occupied the lowest rung of the hierarchy of genres, but has been extremely popular with buyers. As well as the independent still-life subject, still-life painting encompasses other types of painting with prominent still-life elements, usually symbolic, and "images that rely on a multitude of still-life elements ostensibly to reproduce a 'slice of life'". The trompe-l'œil painting, which intends to deceive the viewer into thinking the scene is real, is a specialized type of still life, usually showing inanimate and relatively flat objects.

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