Still Life (Painting and Drawing)

Still life is the painting or drawing of inanimate objects.  The common or cliche example would be a “bowl of fruit”, but could include things such as other types of food, drinking glasses, vases, books, clothing, or natural items like flowers and plants, rocks and sea-shells, etc.

History of the Still Life Genre

Still life as a genre of painting/drawing started to grow in 17th century Netherlands among the Dutch painters of that time.  However the most famous painter of that era was in fact French, Jean Chardin (1699 – 1769).

Chardin painted pictures of everyday items that we now consider quintessential “still-lifes”, including fruits and vegetables, different types of vessels including vases, jars and kettles, as well as animals (both dead and alive).

Notable Still Life Artists

  • Abraham van Beijeren (1620–1690)
  • Adriaen Coorte (1665–1707)
  • Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573–1621)
  • André Derain (1880–1954)
  • Antoine Vollon (1833–1900)
  • Balthasar van der Ast (1593–1657)
  • Caravaggio (1571–1610)
  • Clara Peeters
  • Claude Monet (1840–1926)
  • Édouard Manet (1832–1883)
  • Fernand Léger (1881–1955)
  • Floris van Dyck (1575–1651)
  • Francisco de Zurbarán (1598–1664)
  • Francisco Goya (1746–1828)
  • Frans Snyders (1579–1657)
  • Frida Kahlo (1907–1954)
  • Georges Braque (1882–1963)
  • Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986)
  • Giorgio Morandi (1890–1964)
  • Giovanna Garzoni (1600–1670)
  • Gustave Courbet (1819–1877)
  • Harmen Steenwijck (1612–1656)
  • Henri Fantin-Latour (1836–1904)
  • Henri Matisse (1869–1954)
  • Jacob Foppens van Es (1596–1666)
  • Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568–1625)
  • Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606–1684)
  • Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686–1755)
  • Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699–1779)
  • Juan Gris (1887–1927)
  • Juan Sánchez Cotán (1560–1627)
  • Louise Moillon (1610–1696)
  • Luis Egidio Meléndez (1716–1780)
  • Marsden Hartley (1877–1943)
  • Mary Cassatt (1844–1926)
  • Osias Beert (1580–1624)
  • Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
  • Paul Cézanne (1839–1906)
  • Paul Gauguin (1848–1903)
  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919)
  • Pieter Claesz (1597–1661)
  • Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750)
  • Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997)
  • Salvador Dalí (1904–1989)
  • Samuel Dirksz van Hoogstraten (1627–1678)
  • Tom Wesselmann (1931–2004)
  • Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)
  • Willem Claesz. Heda (1594–1680)
  • Willem Kalf (1619–1693)
  • Willem van Aelst (1627–1683)
  • William Harnett (1848–1892)

Famous Quote about Still Life Painting

“Cézanne made a living thing out of a teacup, or rather in a teacup he realized the existence of something alive. He raised still life to such a point that it ceased to be inanimate. He painted these things as he painted human beings, because he was endowed with the gift of divining the inner life in everything. His color and line are alike suitable to the spiritual harmony. A man, a tree, an apple — all were used by Cézanne in the creation of something that is called a “picture,” and which is a piece of true inward and artistic harmony.”

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) Russian painter.