Spotlight Art – Mallow and Dahlias – Painting of the Day by Elena Branovitskaya

The image depicts a painting titled Mallow and Dahlias by the artist Elena Branovitskaya. The work is a floral still life painting of mallows and dahlias in two glass vases set against pale mellow background.

Painting Attribution © Elena Branovitskaya, Mallow and Dahlias, 2017

Source Attribution https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-Mallow-an-dahlias/1756620/8368480/view

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Talking Pictures (23) – Genre: Still Life Painting [Laurens Craen, Dutch, c. 1620 – c.1670]

Welcome followers and visitors to my blog and the latest update in my photography diary. The aim of this particular task is to gain, through research, an understanding of the still life genre in painting that will hopefully continue to inform and support a personal project entitled The Object as Cipher – Interpretation, meaning and the Development of Narrative. Today’s topic is a discussion about a painting entitled Still life with imaginary view, circa 1645 – 1650 by Laurens Craen.

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Laurens Craen, Still life with imaginary view, circa 1645 – 1650

Laurens Craen, Still life with imaginary view, circa 1645 – 1650
Oil on panel
634 x 853 mm
Art Gallery NSW, Sydney

This painting typifies the compositional structure and formal elements of 17th century Dutch banquet paintings.

The work possesses, in the background, an imaginary view of a landscape; whilst, the foreground depicts objects of contemporary rarity and were included by LC for their sheer novelty and to engage viewers.

Describing a work by another still-life painter of the period, Herbert Furst (The Art of Still Life Painting, 88) writes:

There is little doubt that these expensive luxuries were the means by which he [Willem Kalf] endeavoured to interest his public: they were the “subject” of his still life.”

The composition is filled with Imported lemons, oysters, Venetian glass, silverware, velvet and silk drapery all commonly viewed as elements within contemporary banquet-pieces. The work is steeped in a luxurious atmosphere of luxury filled with rare, precious and expensive objects that celebrated prosperity and abundance. An image that cane described as

…grandiosely and anachronistically, as “the painting as museum”; what it essentially involves is a link between still life and the mentality of collecting.

Elizabeth Alice Honig, Art Historian

(“Making Sense of Things: On the Motives of Dutch Still Life,” Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 34 (Autumn, 1998): 176)

In this work LC displays a collection of differing objects belonging to different seasons. A symbolic manifestation of contemporary affluence.

 “… a specimens from different seasons were often included in the same composition.

 Scott A. Sullivan

(“A Banquet-Piece with Vanitas Implications,”The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 61, no. 8 (October, 1974): 275.)

 

Other suggest different interpretations where still-life paintings such as Craen’s are not merely presentations of objects to be admired but an invitation for their consumption and communal sharing. (Elizabeth Alice Honig, [“Making Sense of Things: On the Motives of Dutch Still Life,” Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 34 (Autumn, 1998): 174.] ) The image can equally be viewed as R.G. Saisselin [in “Still-Life Paintings in a Consumer Society,” 180] suggests as a form of advertising,

However, the use of images to sell a product is anything but new and still-life painting was potentially advertising from the moment that it was secularized. […] One may call it a pre-literary advertisement … one cannot say that they induce the viewer to consume … merely [an indication of} … an activity and the product of that activity. The modern advertisement is far more insistent for it is meant to move viewers to make a purchase.

As Herbert Furst (The Art of Still Life Painting, 71) argues LC’s painting demonstrates a meticulous technical skill in handling

… the cubic pattern made by the volumes placed one on top of the other and at different angles. Here were problems of recession, in fact, of volume, to be solved together with problems of light.

and [the work} had

… no decorative purpose; even the associative ideas, [….], were manifestly subordinated to the pleasure of rendering thing as the physical eye saw them.

 Herbert Furst, The Art of Still Life Painting, 81.

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and were, therefore, perhaps

produced, not for the public so much as for the artist’s own sakes, more exactly for the sake of the problems involved in the treatment rather than the subject-matter”.

Herbert Furst,
(The Art of Still Life Painting [London: The Whitefriars Press Ltd, 1927], 71)

 

Both abundance and urgency can be detected inLC’s Still life with imaginary view – the rich and enjoyable feast has been suddenly interrupted against man’s will suggesting both the fleeting nature of the enjoyment and man’s inability to prevent its passing.

Paintings in which […] expensively set tables lie asunder served as a memento mori or “reminder of death,” intended to underscore life’s transience and the greater weight of moral considerations.

National Gallery of Art Washington, Painting in the Dutch Golden Age, 87.

At the same time, the vast landscape in the background, with the canals flowing out to the unknown, implies an insignificance of the material objects in comparison to the sublime in the nature.

It is certain that LC and his contemporaries found a great interest and motivation in the formal aspects of representational art – display of craftsmanship and pictorial realism – but the image also carries a broader allegorical content paradigmatic of the 17th century Dutch painting and, therefore, equally legible to its viewers.

Reference List

https://artiris.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/still-life-painting-in-the-dutch-golden-age/

 

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Have a wonderful day.

 

 

Talking Pictures (22) – Genre: Still Life Painting [Willem Claesz Heda, Dutch, 1594 – 1680]

Welcome again followers and visitors to my blog and the latest update in my photography diary. The aim of this particular task is to gain, through research, an understanding of the still life genre in painting that will hopefully continue to inform and support a personal project entitled The Object as Cipher – Interpretation, meaning and the Development of Narrative. Today’s topic is a discussion about a painting entitled Still Life with Oysters, a Silver Tazza, and Glassware,1635 by Willem Claesz Heda.

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Willem Claesz Heda, Still Life with Oysters, a Silver Tazza, and Glassware
1635

Still Life with Oysters, a Silver Tazza, and Glassware
1635
Oil on wood
498 x 806 mm
Met Museum NY

The image – a monochrome banquet piece, or banketje – is typical of HWC’s body of work in the mid-1630s. That which I find really interesting is how WCH has created a composition imbued with impressive subtlety. The employment of a muted colour range of silvery greys, golden yellows, and browns with their accurately observed tonal values accentuates the painting’s naturalistic effect.

The work is restrained composed of glass and metal vessels delicately arranged on a table with oysters, a half-peeled lemon and or other motifs. The image demonstrates his mastery of draftsmanship and his skill in imitating the varied qualities of different light-reflecting surfaces.
The relatively high viewpoint adopted affords an overall survey of the objects.

The lighting is very low key and comes from left top of frame and divides the image diagonally into two counterbalanced shades of light and dark. A central vertical line passing through the mouth of the paper cone, the highlight on the spoon and goblet accentuates the images classical construction. Yet with its very monochromatic tones and limited use of objects possesses a very contemporary minimalistic feel.

The composition, laid out on a the horizontal table top, is made up of – on the left, an empty oyster shells rest in front of a plate of oysters yet to be consumed. The ebony and ivory handle of a knife extends over the edge of the table, and a gleaming spoon carefully leads the eye to a shard of glass and other curving forms that give the work a sense of rhythmic dynamism. A cut lemon, a single pit, and a paper cone of spice rest on another pewter plate in the foreground.

In the mid 1630’s the printed paper would have been recognized as a page torn from an almanac, arguably a reminder that one’s days on earth are numbered. The lemon with its bitterness and the wineglass that has tipped over and broken are symbolic of how fleeting worldly pleasures are.

The pewter plates are balanced visually by the silver tazza lying on its side, which reveals the untarnished interior of the base. I particularly admire the way the base touches the plate and how the lemon peel highlights the play of light over the elaborately worked surface of the tazza. WCH displays a virtuosity in describing reflections and transparency. Indeed the variety of reflected light throughout the painting—while somewhat open to question on optical grounds—is extraordinary.

Behind the tazza to the left is a glass of beer, and to the right a pewter plate and a fancy glass pitcher. An open, leather-covered knife case to the right mirrors the position of the knife to the left, and draws attention to the artist’s signature.

Walnuts are scattered to the far right, and hazelnuts below the stem of the tazza and at the foot of the large roemer.

A tall window is reflected three times in the bowl of the glass, and the beaded moulding on the glass (at the top of the pruned stem) is echoed more than once in the wine.

The work is filled with symbolic references.

Reference List

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Willem-Claeszoon-Heda

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/438376

www.museothyssen.org/en/collection/artists/heda-willem-claesz

 

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Thank you for sharing your time with me.

Have a wonderful day.