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 throughout History

  • Juan Sanchez Cotan (1560 – 1627)
  • Georg Flegel (1566 – 1638)
  • Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573 – 1621)
  • Clara Peeters (1594 – ??)
  • Willem Claesz. Heda (1593/1594 – c. 1680/1682)
  • Pieter Claesz (1597 – 1660)
  • Francisco de Zurbarán (1598 – 1664)
  • Floris van Schooten (1585/1588 – 1656)
  • Adriaen van Ostade (1610 – 1685)
  • Willem Kalf (1619 -1693)
  • Hubert van Ravesteyn (1638 – 1691)
  • Jan Fyt (1611 – 1661)
  • Pieter van de Venne (1615 – 1657)
  • Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627 – 1678)
  • Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin (1699 – 1779)
  • James Peale
  • Raphaelle Peale
  • Rubens Peale
  • William Henry Fox Talbot
  • George Cochran Lambdin
  • Henri Fantin-Latour
  • Severin Roesen
  • George Walter Harris
  • Paul Cézanne
  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Vincent van Gogh
  • John Frederick Peto
  • William J. McCloskey
  • Georges Seurat
  • Alfred Henry Maurer
  • Henri Matisse
  • Marsden Hartley
  • Walt Kuhn
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Georges Braque
  • Charles Demuth
  • Ben Benn
  • Robert Delaunay
  • Edward Weston
  • Juan Gris
  • Gerald Murphy
  • Joan Miró
  • Pili Pili Mulongoya
  • Wayne Thiebaud
  • Richard Diebenkorn
  • Brian Connelly
  • Ralph Goings
  • Audrey Flack
  • Tom Wesselmann
  • Flora C. Mace
  • Joey Kirkpatrick

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.