Still Life

16,828 artworks, 3,744 artists
Blaise Pascal once said: “What a strange vanity painting is; it attracts admiration by resembling the original we do not admire”. And after all, he was right – have you ever noticed your tendency to look at your kitchen table with cutlery, food, fruit or a bouquet of flowers for a long time? Usually, such a composition is given a cursory glance, while it is sometimes impossible to look away from a still life painting executed by the hand of a master. As evidence, we suggest you take a look at the canvases by Willem Claesz HedaHenri Fantin-Latour or Abraham Mignon. We are sure: looking at the details, you will not notice the picture completely take up all your attention.

The first still lifes are considered to appear within the period from the 15th to the 16th century. In that era, it had not yet taken its final shape as an independent genre: images of flowers or household items served as the backdrop for the main subject. A little later, at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, artists created canvases that could be called the first paintings in the still life genre. These were images of kitchen utensils or snacks, hiding niches or decorating kitchen cabinets.

In the 17th century, Flemish and Dutch painters preferred still life, thereby giving it the status of a separate genre. The paintings depicting ordinary objects and things were called “frozen life”. The central subject matters of the paintings were flowers, dishes, food, hunting trophies, etc. Paintings in the still life genre were gaining popularity among the public – they were willingly bought, but the so-called quodlibets were in special demand: the canvas viewed from a certain angle showed an image hidden among lines and colour spots. The fame of such painters as Peter Steinbeck, David Bailly, Pieter Claesz, Balthasar van der AstAmbrosius Bosschaert is spread throughout Europe, and their artworks serve as a source of inspiration for French, Italian, German artists.

By the early 18th century, still life appeared in Russia. There it was treated as a secondary, “lower” art: the genre of still life was mostly used by students who drew a specially set composition of flowers or fruit to the canvas. This continued until the early 20th century, when artists who experimented to find fresh ideas and techniques turned to still life, since its form provided ample opportunity to express ideas. Painters used composition, colour and form to create new images and find fresh themes. The audience enthusiastically accepted still life paintings made by such artists as Sergey Osipov, Piotr Alberti, Victor Teterin, Maya Kopitseva.

It is impossible to imagine modern painting without still life. Artists apply all available means – from classic paints and pastels to computer graphics – to delight viewers with bright paintings filled with beauty and reverence for nature. For you, Arthive collected the best still life artworks painted by great artists of the past years and painters of the 21st century.