Gallery 635 - Still-Life Painting in Northern Europe
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Still-life motifs occur frequently in early Netherlandish art, but the subject flourished as an independent genre after 1600, not only in Dutch and Flemish cities but throughout Europe. Especially in the increasingly urbanized society of Holland and Flanders there was an emphasis on personal possessions, imported goods, hobbies, and learning. Early in the century, flower still lifes were favored by cultivated collectors for their refined execution, natural beauty, and symbolism. The so-called monochrome breakfast, or banquet, painting, with its restrained palette, was more common in the mercantile city of Haarlem, where Pieter Claesz and Willem Claesz Heda worked. Although many Dutch still lifes had moral messages, these were often merely intellectual embellishments in pictures meant primarily to delight and impress viewers with their verisimilitude. German and French still-life paintings usually had Netherlandish sources, but by 1700 the field had become international, with artists moving among foreign cities and courts.