The greatest flowering of still life painting was in the Dutch “golden Age” of the 17thcentury.
It was a time of social and religious upheaval. In the rest of Europe religious paintings ruled. These images were banned in the churches of Calvinist Netherlands and this flowed through to their homes. Instead they created masterful still life’s that celebrated trade. Flowers, fish, cheese, shells, exotic fruits, porcelain. They also placed highly symbolic objects in the works that often told hidden religious stories.
In the 17th century a quiddity was “a riddling road to illumination.”
When feasting on a still life masterpiece from the Dutch “golden age” part of the enjoyment is the satisfaction one gets from being able to read a painting. No doubt the artists got enormous satisfaction from concocting an obtuse quiddity.
All these works feature period items from the time.
All images © Kevin Best