Still life painting

Earlier still life, as well as landscape wasn’t an independent painting genre. During the Renaissance, when still life experienced the period of its infancy, its elements could be found in religious and historical paintings. For quite a long period of time elements of still life were part and parcel of a religious painting. For instance, garland of flowers framed figures of angels, Jesus Christ or the Mother of God. They also were used for decorating and were often painted on the back side of triptychs, polyptychs and other close-up paintings, such as The Braque Triptych by a famous Netherlandish painter of the 16th century Rogier van der Weyden. Early still lifes also played a functional role in European houses: they were used for decorating leaf doors of wardrobes or for covering wall niches.

A century later – in the 17th century – still life painting became an independent painting genre. The fact that still life experienced its flourishing period in Flanders and the Netherlands is related to the revolutionary events, that brought the counties to independence and in the 17th century they went on the path of bourgeois development. That was an important stage of progress for Europe of that time. The boundaries of art were also extended: artists’ interests and resolutions then were defined by historical factors and new relations in society. Painters reconsidered their views of the world and came up with new human values. Especially great interest they took in everyday life and work of ordinary people and in the beauty of their native country. Such an interest gave rise to genre painting and landscape and, finally, to still life.

Vanitas, a type of still life painting, was especially popular in that period. It served as a symbol of the transience of life, the futility of entertainments and the certainty of death. The main subject matter of such still lifes were skulls, hourglasses, dead flowers and other symbols of the transience of life and time. These still lifes had a religious overtone as well including the subjects of the Passion or the Resurrection of Christ and the hope for a better life after the Resurrection.

Established in the 17th century still life painting traditions determined the main characteristics of the genre and existed in the European art until the 19th century. A painting dedicated to the world of things revealed the main qualities and characteristics of things around, showed painters’ and their contemporaries’ attitude toward subject matters, and their views of the world. A painter showed the essence of material objects, their color, shape, texture, practical value of household goods and how they were connected with human activities.

Though that doesn’t mean that painters just used the same techniques of the 17th century over and over. Throughout the life of still life as an independent painting genre not only techniques and methods have experienced some changes, but painters have acquired the unique artistic experience together with deep and constantly changing views of the world. Not the objects themselves but their different qualities have become a new subject matter, and through the reveal of their qualities and characteristics painters showed their original view of the world and their attitude toward new values of that time.

Nowadays still life remains one of the most popular painting genre not only in European, but also in Russian painting. We invite you to visit our catalogue, where you can not only check out our collection of still lifes, but also buy them at a quite attractive price.