…… than I thought” a previous students statement. Do you agree with it?
To some extent Yes I do agree with this statement. Until I did some research on this genre I just thought they were nice paintings of flowers or fruit etc but now I know that some had a hidden meaning it adds a new dimension to them. This applies mainly to the 17th century though as by the 18th/19th century and the advent of the Academies in Europe ‘Still Lives’ had been relegated to the lowest level in the hierarchy of genres after History, Portrait and Landscape painting.
I was also surprised to learn that they were considered to be the easiest to paint because of the inanimate subjects used and needed no imagination on the part of the artist who unfortunately was also paid less.
Félibien believed that:-
‘…., the artist who does perfect landscapes is superior to another who paints only fruit, flowers or shells. The artist who paints living animals deserves more respect than those who represent only still, lifeless subjects. And as the human figure is God’s most perfect work on earth, it is certainly the case that the artist who imitates God by painting human figures is more outstanding by far than all the others.’
(Félibien, Art and Its Histories, pp 35)