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Still Life Paintings
Still life paintings are domestic and luxurious. During the Dutch Golden Age – that is, the 1600s – there was an explosion in still life painting. Moving into the 1900s, when the art world was driven by academies in the major capital cities, the state-sponsored tastemakers looked down on still life painting but that never stopped its production.
Sometimes a still life is a bouquet of flowers on a table. Depending on the flower, it can have all sorts of meanings associated. For example, lilies are the flower for the Virgin Mary. The Symbolist painter, Odilon Redon, painted colorful flower still life scenes in the second part of his life, a time when he enjoyed domestic bliss.
Another frequent still life scenario is a bowl or tray of fruit, perhaps with cheese that is slightly soft to show it is at room temperature. There might also be a crab or meat. A lone knife positioned at the front edge of the table, on a diagonal line, offers a point of entry for the viewer’s eye into the three-dimensional world.
Paul Cezanne, the Post-Impressionist master whose work closely anticipates Cubism, painted late still life scenes with the edge of the table broken
Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso painted still life canvases with musical instruments. Cubism was something fun for them, and an entertainment for the viewer to find the image based on the clue of the title
Landscape paintings by Robert De Niro, Sr., father of the famous actor, occasionally come to market at affordable prices