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The Magic of Things

Still-Life Painting 1500–1800

Hauptbau / 07.09.2008–04.01.2009

The fascination of still lifes lies in their close-up view of a few, often unchanging objects rendered with extreme painterly sophistication. The still life, once on the lower rungs of the artistic ladder, was often used to demonstrate an artist’s skills, the appeal and value of a work being based on the quality of the composition, the meaningful combination of objects and the refinement of the brushstroke. In early modern times, however, the still life became much more than a mere exercise in style. It often served to make a moral statement and to encourage reflection. The Vanitas in particular was meant to remind us of the fleeting nature of life, a universal thought individually rendered by the objects chosen to symbolize it.