Still life with seashell
Still life with seashell — a picture depicting an abundance of gifts of nature belongs to a special group called «luxurious» still life. Juicy fruits and berries, expensive delicacies and dishes coexist with exquisite china dishes, sparkling glasses and goblets, silver jugs, dishes and candlesticks. All this splendor is often depicted in a frame of expensive fabrics, tablecloths, oriental curtains and carpets, with antique statues in the background or in the form of relief patterns on huge vases.
See other paintings by Evgenia Zragevskaya here: Night park
In the 17th century, still life stood out as a separate genre of art. Before that, inanimate objects only supplemented historical and genre painting, but were not an independent subject for depiction. The flourishing of still life is associated with Dutch (and more narrowly — Dutch) painters.
Excessive decorativeness of «luxurious» still lifes not only demonstrated the bounty of nature and emphasized the solemnity of the meal. The works were intended to decorate the interiors of the wealthy bourgeoisie and reflected their desire for grace, luxury and vanity.
Arranged as if in a showcase, juicy fruits, overseas delicacies and the details of serving a magnificent meal told about the well-being and privileged position of the owner of the house. The skillful work of fashionable painters of that time was highly valued — such a picture spoke for itself.
The painting of that time was based on the symbolism of the depicted objects. This hidden meaning was clear to most people in the 17th century. Choosing certain elements for the picture, the artist conveyed an additional message to his contemporaries in coded form.
We know that many symbols in art have a religious meaning (wine and grapes, apples, bread, etc.). But everyday interpretations of some objects are also known.
«Luxurious» still life with lots of fruit is not the only kind of Dutch still life. There were others, you definitely saw them:
— floral still life — magnificent bouquets could take months to prepare: artists waited for certain plants to blossom in order to paint them from nature,
— «kitchen» still life — the image of products for preparing dinner, surrounded by kitchen utensils,
— «hunting» still life — paintings with game and other hunting trophies,
— «fish» still life — an illustration of the results of successful fishing,
— still life with animals — composition with lizards, snakes, butterflies, caterpillars,
— «philosophical» still life («Vanity of vanities») — moralizing painting with symbols of futility and frailty of life (extinguished candle, skull, clock, books, withered flowers) …