Thoughts from the Scottish National Gallery - Seventeenth Century Still Life

The collection of Seventeenth Century European Still Life at the Scottish National Gallery has an impressive presence. As you walk into the circular room the high contrast images and the saturated black of the backdrop almost glisten. This highlights incredible detail and hyper realism of the objects in the foreground of the Still Life.

“They are paintings of astounding quality and beauty, often rich in symbolism and historic interest.” Gabriele Finaldi, 2016.

 Cut flowers are a resurrection in themselves, cut from their sustenance they provide one bloom then wilt.

“when composing bouquets... typically combined flowers from different countries and even different continents in one vase and at one moment of blooming. For wealthy merchants, a flower picture was part of a private domain that included a garden with rare specimens (which occasionally cost more than paintings of them).” Walter Liedtke, 2003.

 As Suggested by Liedtke, Still Life has always been a metaphor for wealth and globalisation. The relationship between natural materials and capital is a paradoxical one because of the longevity of wealth in comparison with the organic.

Nature Morte is looking for work that explores contemporary issues within Still Life, but as discussed wealth, globalisation, and commoditisation are timeless.  


Still-life with Fruit and Flowers, Gaspar Pieter Verbruggen the Younger,  About 1690 - 1700, 40.00 x 32.50 cm, Scottish National Gallery Bequest of Mrs Nisbet Hamilton Ogilvy of Biel 1921


Still Life, 1625 - 1675, Dutch School, 40.50 x 32.60 cm, Scottish National Gallery Bequest of the 11th Marquess of Lothian 1941, Photographer Antonia Reeve