Still life Painting has been popular in Western Art since the 17 th century, the walls of the ancient pyramids, however, are adorned with beautiful still life murals. Still Life Painting depicts the human need to transcend the barriers of time and achieve timelessness.
Inanimate objects gain life in still life paintings, and regale us with stories of their times. A pomegranate from a Cezanne painting tells us about impressionism of 19 th century France. A sunflower from a Van Gogh announces the concept of abstractism. Still life Paintings are indeed great storytellers.
History of Still Life Painting
The pharaohs of ancient Egypt were great patrons of Still Life Painting; their tombs were adorned with such paintings. The main reason for these paintings being there was the belief that the foodstuff and other items depicted in them would become real in afterlife and would be used by the pharaohs.
Roman frescos of Pompeii too depict beautiful still life paintings, but they were mainly decorative in intent.
In Middle ages and the Rennaissance still life paintings were mainly used to depict Christian Religious Subject.
The French aristocracy of the 18th century employed artists to execute paintings of bounteous and extravagant still life subjects. However with the rise of academic art, Still life paintings was relegated to the shadows.
With the rise of Impressionism, Still life paintings again came into forefront. Painters like Cezanne and Van Gogh found in Still life the challenge of exploring the realms of reality and break the glass ceiling.
Still Life Paintings of Cezanne
Paul Cezanne had the rare ability of absorbing his surroundings and interpreting it in the most novel way. Cezanne's treated his work in a style which can be almost callled arcitectural, in this style the visual field is broken down into small, regular brushstrokes that build up the image in planes and areas of colour. He desigend whatever he perceived into simple forms and colour planes to provide the maximum amount of information in the image of his observed subject.
Some of his best known Still life Paintings are Le Dessert, Still Life with Fruit Basket and Vase of Flowers.
Van Gogh Painting: Sunflowers
"Sunflowers” is a series of still life paintings that Van Gogh painted between 1888-1889.
The paintings show sunflowers in all stages of life, from fully in bloom to withering. The paintings were innovative for their use of the yellow spectrum. This series was particularly close to Van Gogh's heart. To his dear brother Theo he wrote-“ the sunflower is mine in a way”
Today Still life Paintings are being interpreted with a combination of American Realism and Cubist-derived abstraction.