SPECIALISATION: Still Life Kitchen and Hunting Piece
In the 16th Century, there is evidence of an increased interest in the world and of Nature. The scientific importance is the driving force behind the will to make an inventory of Nature and is reflected in the arts. In the popular market and kitchen pieces by Pieter Aertsen (ca. 1508-1575) and Joachim Beuckelaer (ca. 1533-ca. 1575), edibles and utensils are very precisely rendered, while in the background a religious painting is taken up. In the 17th Century, the religious moral is exchanged for a rather verdoken vanitas symbolic with perishable fruits and vegetables, a combination of dead and living animals in the related hunting scenes and allusions to the fleeting nature of sexual pleasure.
Decorative kitchen and hunting pieces are the dream genre to exhibit painterly bravura. The technical acumen of the painter comes out of the illusionist representation of fauna and flora.
Frans Snijders (1579-1657) is the originator of the Baroque kitchen still life. From Rubens, Snijders learns how to elevate the dramatic in his still lives by a striking motif, for example by capturing a strikingly situated mute swan. After a period of time, his still lives become larger and take on monumental allure and the dramatic is further intensified.
Joannes Fijt (1611-1661) is influenced by Snijders, but paints finer and more elegant variants and introduces the hunting still life with an open landscape. Peeter Boel (1622-1674), possibly a student of Fijt, also makes a statement in the genre.
The fish still life is a derivative of the fish markets that Joachim Beuckelaer introduces in the second half of the 16th Century. Fish still lives provide an image of the diversity of the known fish types and are moralistic in character.