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Pieter Claesz.'s masterful description of objects arranged on a table exemplifies Dutch still life painting of the seventeenth century. This composition is considered to be a mature work of the artist who specialised in this genre. It includes a variety of objects and foods which would have been familiar in Dutch middle class homes – an engraved silver goblet, pewter vessels and plates, a large ham stuck with cloves.The composition is enlivened with details such as the rumpled tablecloth, a broken glass and scattered nutshells. Similar works by the artist include a version dated 1643 at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. Claesz. had a passionate interest in light. The single light source is at the upper left side of this painting and it shines around, within and through some of the objects whose differing materials and textures he seems to paint so effortlessly. The objects are life-size and very close to the picture plane; the colour is muted. Claesz. was concerned not so much with the illusionist rendering of objects as with painting light itself. His mature works are painted with surprising freedom which can be seen here, for example, in the side of ham or the cloves stuck into it. His obvious delight in observing the play of light is most evident in the blurred reflection of the bread roll in the engraved silver goblet. There is an impressive restraint and concentration in all his work although their components and his style changed very little in over 40 years.

Details

  • Title: Still Life
  • Creator: CLAESZ, Pieter
  • Date Created: 1640
  • Physical Dimensions: h 555, w 860 mm
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: ©Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives
  • Medium: Oil on panel, oak

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