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Still life - features and history of the genre

Who does not like to admire images of beautiful lush bouquets, ripe fruits, or autumn vegetables? In the paintings of master painters, they look almost alive - so you want to touch fresh petals or bite a pouring apple for a ruddy barrel! It is not surprising that there is even a special genre in art for these works. This article will tell you what a still life is, how to recognize it and what is its history.

If you're interested in exploring the world of still-life art or adding these timeless pieces to your collection, offers a curated selection of exquisite still-life paintings. Immerse yourself in the beauty of these artworks and discover how they can bring the essence of nature and everyday life into your home.

Натюрморт з квітами

Still, life is the elusive beauty of a thing

In art, the name "still life" (from the French "natur morte", "dead nature") is used by all paintings depicting objects of inanimate nature grouped together. The drawing must be distinguished by the integrity of the composition, but at the same time it can be both an independent work and a part of a large genre picture - for example, a portrait or a household sketch. Creating a still life, the artist depicts not just flowers, fruits and objects - he reveals to the viewer his attitude to nature, understanding of beauty and harmony. Thanks to these works, we can look into the past and learn how our ancestors lived.

The ability to reliably convey things on canvas is an important part of the artist's skill. Even before these images became a separate genre of art, they were an integral part of many beautiful paintings. At the same time, still life was never just a background for the events taking place or a random drawing of scattered objects. On the contrary, all the objects on it participated in creating a general image, helped to reproduce the artist's idea and reveal the characters more fully. Sometimes seemingly insignificant details acquired a deep meaning, significance, subtext.

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The history of still life - from ancient times to modern times

Like any kind of art, still life painting was not formed immediately. Art historians can name the periods of ups and downs of this genre.

The first such creations can already be seen in the sublime, ascetic works of the masters of the Byzantine Empire. Artists, creating monumental and sublime images, wrote in a somewhat stylized, generalized manner. But from this, the drawings of individual things only gained more expressiveness, supplemented by the symbolic load of paintings, mosaics, or frescoes.

From Byzantine art, decorative still life gradually passed into Old Russian art, namely icon painting. Due to the fact that all icons were written in strict compliance with the canon, those few things that tradition allowed to be depicted next to saints and righteous people were filled with a special meaning. But at the same time, such objects enlivened the image, made it more direct, vital, brought the mythological plot closer to the viewer.

Натюрморт з фруктами

The Renaissance (15th - 16th centuries) was marked by an unprecedented rise of still life as a genre. At this time, artists for the first time began to give their works a portrait likeness, to make them naturalistic and authentic. And this applied not only to the living characters of the picture but also to their objective environment. The artist tried to determine the place for each object depending on its value and significance. In addition, the things in the picture helped to emphasize the nobility and dignity of the depicted person. Although on large-scale portrait work, still life was most often limited to a drawing of a vase with a flower, a jug or a coat of arms in the corner of the room, the master depicted them so lovingly and inspired that already here you can see all the prerequisites for the further development of this direction in art.

However, the real flourishing of still-life painting occurred in the 17th century. Artists began to create works on literary themes, depicting heroes of ancient myths, legends and even fairy tales. Drawings of things and objects of that era became another way to immerse the viewer in the atmosphere of Ancient Greece or the Middle Ages, to convey their color and mood.

This genre became especially popular in the Netherlands (Holland) and Flanders. This was caused by revolutionary historical events - citizens of these countries, townspeople, peasants and merchants, fought for their independence from Spain. Although their struggle was defeated, the spirit of that time - bright, complex, full of contradictions and heights - was preserved in many paintings. They depict the life and everyday life of ordinary people, features of national culture, nature, and everyday scenes. Artists allegorically depicted people's values and desires - their works reproduce symbolic images of prosperity, peace, prosperity and well-being.

It was thanks to these paintings that the main qualities of this direction in art arose. For example, a still life with fruits told the viewer not only about the properties and characteristics of fruits, but also revealed how the painter and his contemporaries treated them, expressed their way of knowing the world around them, the completeness of the connections between its elements. In the creations where kitchen utensils were shown, their functional value, connection with everyday life and everyday life, and utilitarian usefulness were played up. Thus, these works are not only objects of art, but also an inexhaustible source of knowledge about past eras, a window into the past. They allow you to appreciate the skill of the craftsman who created the depicted things, to show respect for his efforts and work.

Натюрморт з фруктами

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the methods of compositional solution of still life, the manner of the artist's work changed, but the essence of the picture remained unchanged - it conveyed the painter's view of the world. The accumulated artistic experience made it possible to do this more and more likely, enriching the treasury of world culture. Later, under the influence of impressionism and surrealism, these works became not so much a representation of the appearance of an object, but a way to reveal its properties and qualities, to express with their help one's values, attitude to the surrounding world, understanding of reality.

Modern still life - principles and features

Now artists have a huge range of expressive means that allow them to create different modifications of the classic still life. For work, not only the usual paints and brushes are used, but also clippings from magazines, polymer clay, coloring powder, and even precious stones - for example, amber. In addition, painters work not only in a realistic style, but also use various techniques that allow to enhance the impression of the work - stylization, hyperbolization, techniques of abstractionism, and impressionism.

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But in any case, the objects shown in the picture bear the imprint of the thoughts, emotions, feelings, and mood of the person who created them. Thus, autumn still life allows you to convey not only the beauty of ripe fruits and yellowed leaves - it becomes a way to immerse the viewer in the atmosphere of natural abundance and wealth, gratitude for summer labors. By hanging it in the house, you will bring the same qualities into your life, ensuring your financial independence and prosperity.

Aesthetically reinterpreted and passed through the prism of the painter's subjective perception, still, lifes are a special kind of art that will enchant you and captivate your guests, will be a great addition to a carefully designed design and a stylish accent in any room.


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