Still life paintings are characterized by the arrangement of a group of inanimate elements to form its theme, and these elements are usually arranged on a table, and include organic things such as fruits, vegetables and flowers, household items such as glassware or pottery, and various textiles.
Still life painting dates back to ancient Egyptian art, in the 15th century BC, when funerary drawings of food, agricultural crops, fish, and meat were discovered in ancient burial sites, next to scenes that detail daily life.
The Greeks and Romans also created artistic images of inanimate elements, but most of the time they depicted these elements in mosaic paintings and frescoes such as plates of fruit and rose dishes.
Through the ages
During the Middle Ages, due to the control of religion and the Church over all aspects of life, artists adapted still nature paintings for religious purposes, in addition to incorporating painted elements into images from biblical scenes, as they used those paintings to decorate religious manuscripts, explaining biblical meanings, with drawings of coins, And fruit, and seashells.
During the Renaissance, artists began painting flowers and plants more, and those paintings displayed flowers and plants from different countries and continents, inside one vase, and those vases did not contain any other elements, and these paintings appeared in the early 17th century, when the interest of Renaissance artists increased By making realistic studies of everyday items.
The artists of the Dutch Golden Age took the interest in drawing flowers and plants to a new direction, while creating their own Vanitas, paintings inspired by one of the books of the Bible, which remind people of human mortality, to reject pride and vanity.
These paintings were drawn to emphasize the meaning of life’s mortality and fragility, and included elements such as human skulls, extinguished candles, and withered roses, along with musical instruments, wine and books. The artist emphasizes the contrast between worldly pleasures and the annihilation of life.
The still nature has remained a common feature in modern art movements, and some Impressionist artists became involved in this type of art, such as Auguste Renoir, and in the post-impressionism period, when Van Gogh adopted vases as his subject, and Paul Cézanne painted a famous series of paintings featuring apples and jugs of water Bottles, Cézanne also painted some vanitas that include fruit with a human skull.
In addition to post-impressionism, pioneers of Cubism Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, and pioneer of pop art Louis Lichtenstein chose to paint everyday objects, fruit dishes, and modern inventions, in ways that were in line with the essence of modernity, and the representation of silent nature with its themes and traded or exotic elements continued until our modern times.
The importance of drawing still life
Due to the nature of the elements used in the still life paintings, they do not move, which facilitates their arrangement and survival on their fixed position for long periods, unlike the drawing of living elements that do not bear stability for long periods.
The silent nature was the best option to learn basic drawing skills, and to study the different properties of each material or type, such as the luster of metals, the smoothness of apples, the transparency of the glass, in addition to its importance in the study of shadow, light and perspective.
In addition, the art of still life can rely heavily on the application of color theory, to add a general meaning and mood to each painting according to the desire of the artist.
The importance of drawing still life is also due to its ubiquity, as simple and common everyday objects, lying here and there inside the house; Suddenly turning into an artistic theme, still nature paintings revisit the things we constantly observe, and offer new ways of seeing them with different meanings and interpretations.