STILL LIFE - WHAT IS IT?

The first artist of the month in January is Henry Fantin-Latour. He was famous for his still lifes. But what is a still life?

Henri Fantin-Latour,Flowers and Fruit,© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Flowers and fruit, 1865

STILL LIFE VOCABULARY 

(By the Getty Museum, https://www.getty.edu/education/teachers/classroom_resources/curricula/esl2/esl2_still_life_overview.html)

A type of art whose subject is a group of natural objects (such as game, flowers, vegetables, or fruits) and man-made objects (such as containers) usually placed on a tabletop with a tablecloth.

subject—focus or theme

natural—not made by humans

objects—things

game—dead birds and animals used for food

man-made—made by humans

containers—objects, such as baskets, bottles, and dishes, that hold something

tabletop—the top of a table

tablecloth—a cloth used to cover a tabletop 

One theme often portrayed in still-life paintings is vanitas, which is concerned with the fragility of man and his world of desires and pleasures in the face of the inevitability and finality of death. It refers to the vanity of earthly possessions, to fleeting time, and to decay.

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