A bowl of fruits, a vase of flowers, a plate of fish – these collections of everyday objects, although familiar and unassuming, mark an artistic genre that spans throughout art history.
Found even in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians, the ‘still life’ is far from a simple reproduction of what is found on the kitchen table. Dominating the artistic scene during the Dutch Golden Age, the still life came to represent the idea of morality, but also the globalisation and urbanisation of the period. Owning a still life painting then was a display of personal wealth and global commerce.
However, this genre proves to be just as popular and prevalent as ever. Providing the opportunity to experiment with new techniques, the still life allows an artist to fine-tune and showcase their skills, whilst also celebrating the beauty found in the temporality and delicacy that is normal life.
In essence, the still life is simplicity personified. It is the portrayal of objects in the day-to-day rumble of everyday life. So why are we still so drawn to them? Perhaps it is for the very reason that they are so familiar that we find comfort in them, and no doubt, will continue to do so.
Therefore, when thinking about adding to your art collection why not invest in this timeless style, described as “the touchstone of painting” by Édouard Manet?
At The Art Buyer we are big fans of the still life and look for artists that continue this age-old tradition with a contemporary edge.
Here are our top picks:
Sophie Harding’s work is focused on the simplicity and harmony found in the small moments and she masterfully uses colour in order to evoke joy. Her still life subject matter is found across her art, both in large scale paintings and in original prints. Her focus on colour and modest compositions creates a very modern and graphic feel to her art, perfect for a lover of still life but perhaps looking for something with a bit of a colourful edge.
The intimacy of the everyday kitchen object is idealised and captured in its beautiful simplicity. The patterned vase, the humble jug, elevated and celebrated. Inspired by her own passion for collecting ceramics and displaying them in her kitchen, Gill Edwards’ art is a love affair with the small objects that fill our homes with personality and share our life stories.
Kevin Dutton is directly inspired by the traditional compositions of the Dutch Golden Age still life, using a contrast between beautiful bright blooms against a dark black background. Grown in his back garden or in his South London allotment, Kevin Dutton’s photographic studies of botanical plants and flowers serve to explore the conventions of art history. See Jan Davidsz de Heem for such Dutch influence! Truly exquisite and traditional but with a modern twist – what’s not to love?