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Still Life Photography

Still life photography refers to photography which depicts inanimate objects, often a small grouping of objects. This genre has been around for as long as photography itself.

When cameras were first invented, photographers needed the subjects of their photographs to be completely still for the exceptionally long exposure time. This made portraiture or action shots difficult, and still life the preferred choice.

Roger Fenton, a 19th century photographer, is credited with introducing a sense of movement to the medium, which was taken to more of an extreme by the early 20th century. Baron Adolf de Meyer and other photographers who chose to work with still life employed soft-focus lenses and other painterly techniques to make their work resemble the more acceptable fine art forms of painting and drawing.


Quick Facts

  • Still life, as opposed to landscape or portraiture, allows the artist more leeway and creativity in the arrangement of the composition
  • André Kertész' "Nature Morte, Chez Mondrian" sold at Sotheby's New York in December 2014 for $197,000
  • Artist Man Ray's photograph "Dead Leaf" is a memento mori depicting a dead, claw-like leaf against a wood-grain background. It is an excellent example of an artist using photography to provide an updated take on a popular motif

Recommended Items at Auction

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2-Real Photographs of VW Split-Window Bugs
Dec 08, 10:00 AM CST
2-Real Photographs of VW Split-Window Bugs
by Matthews Auctions, LLC
Est: $0- $0
$502 Bids
6-Real Photographs of Automobiles
Dec 08, 10:00 AM CST
6-Real Photographs of Automobiles
by Matthews Auctions, LLC
Est: $0- $0
$251 Bid
William Clift (American, b. 1944)
Dec 14, 10:00 AM EST
William Clift (American, b. 1944)
by Gray's Auctioneers
Est: $500- $700
$3001 Bid
Jim McHugh  (born 1940)Selected images, Los Angeles, c. 2010
Dec 06, 1:00 PM CST
Jim McHugh  (born 1940)Selected images, Los Angeles, c. 2010
by Hindman
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$7501 Bid
Jochen Lempert, Untitled, 2003
Dec 02, 2:00 PM CET
Jochen Lempert, Untitled, 2003
by Kunsthaus Lempertz KG
Est: €1,500- €2,000
€1,1001 Bid
RUTH BERNHARD, HOURGLASS, 1971
Dec 04, 12:00 PM EST
RUTH BERNHARD, HOURGLASS, 1971
by White Knight Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
DAN FINSEL (B. 1982): THE SPACE BETWEEN YOU AND ME: CENTERPIECE
Nov 29, 9:00 AM PST
DAN FINSEL (B. 1982): THE SPACE BETWEEN YOU AND ME: CENTERPIECE
by Abell Auction
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$7501 Bid
John Dugdale (American, b. 1960), "The Fruit of Orchards"
Dec 03, 11:00 AM EST
John Dugdale (American, b. 1960), "The Fruit of Orchards"
by Fontaine's Auction Gallery
Est: $800- $1,200
$6001 Bid
John Dugdale (American, b. 1960), "Wonder Stings Me Like The Bee"
Dec 03, 11:00 AM EST
John Dugdale (American, b. 1960), "Wonder Stings Me Like The Bee"
by Fontaine's Auction Gallery
Est: $800- $1,200
$6001 Bid
Early 1900's Streetcar, Boston, Photo Print
Dec 03, 2:00 PM EST
Early 1900's Streetcar, Boston, Photo Print
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $25- $50
$200 Bids
CHARLES JONES (1866-1959) Tulipes May Flowering, c.1895-1910. Tirage argen
Dec 04, 2:30 PM CET
CHARLES JONES (1866-1959) Tulipes May Flowering, c.1895-1910. Tirage argen
by Cornette de Saint-Cyr-Bruxelles
Est: €2,000- €3,000
€2,0000 Bids
Centennial Train Locomotive Photo Print
Dec 17, 2:00 PM EST
Centennial Train Locomotive Photo Print
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $40- $80
$200 Bids
c. 1909 antique American aviation Curtiss airplane
Dec 04, 10:00 AM EST
c. 1909 antique American aviation Curtiss airplane
by Yardley Antiques
Est: $75- $100
$350 Bids
DAMIEN HIRST
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CET
DAMIEN HIRST
by Koller Auctions
Est: CHF4,000- CHF6,000
CHF4,0000 Bids
Marc Quinn, British b.1964- At the Far Edges of the Universe No. 1, 2010; digital pigment print
Nov 30, 10:00 AM GMT
Marc Quinn, British b.1964- At the Far Edges of the Universe No. 1, 2010; digital pigment print
by Roseberys
Est: £1,500- £2,000
£1,0000 Bids
Vostell, Wolf (Leverkusen 1932-1998 Berlin),
Dec 02, 1:00 PM CET
Vostell, Wolf (Leverkusen 1932-1998 Berlin),
by Zisska & Lacher
Est: €300- €400
€3000 Bids
Spoerri, Daniel (geboren 1930 in Galati, Rumänien),
Dec 02, 1:00 PM CET
Spoerri, Daniel (geboren 1930 in Galati, Rumänien),
by Zisska & Lacher
Est: €300- €400
€3000 Bids
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Leopoldo Alinari, Firenze. Il Mercurio, scultura greca nella Galleria degli Uffizi. [1854-1855].
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
Leopoldo Alinari, Firenze. Il Mercurio, scultura greca nella Galleria degli Uffizi. [1854-1855].
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €300- €600
€3000 Bids
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Leopoldo Alinari, Firenze. L'Apollino, scultura greca nella Galleria degli Uffizi. [1857 ca.].
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
Leopoldo Alinari, Firenze. L'Apollino, scultura greca nella Galleria degli Uffizi. [1857 ca.].
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €300- €600
€3000 Bids
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Autore non identificato, Roma. Arco di Costantino. [1855 ca.].
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
Autore non identificato, Roma. Arco di Costantino. [1855 ca.].
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €500- €1,000
€5000 Bids
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Autore non identificato, Roma. Arco di Tito. [1855 ca.].
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
Autore non identificato, Roma. Arco di Tito. [1855 ca.].
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €500- €1,000
€5000 Bids
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Autori vari, Lotto di dodici fotografie di autori vari: vedute di Roma. [1870-1890].
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
Autori vari, Lotto di dodici fotografie di autori vari: vedute di Roma. [1870-1890].
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €400- €800
€4000 Bids
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Giacomo Caneva, Agave. [1850-1853].
Dec 01, 2:00 PM CET
Giacomo Caneva, Agave. [1850-1853].
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €700- €1,400
€7000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Still Life Photography


Kunsthaus Lempertz KG

Kunsthaus Lempertz KG

Galerie Bassenge

Galerie Bassenge

Gonnelli Casa d'Aste

Gonnelli Casa d'Aste

Roseberys

Roseberys