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Still Life
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Still-life is taken from the Dutch word "stilleven" and had its beginnings in ancient times in such civilizations as Pompeii. Dutch and Flemish painters were particularly fond of depicting fruit, flowers and other table pieces, that they called "Ontbijt" (Breakfast Piece), "Pronkstilleven"" (ostentation) and "Vanitas" (religious pieces). There were also important still-life schools in Italy and Spain, with a smaller one in France. However, the French painters Chardin and Cezanne were the most important still-life artists during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries respectively.

Religious still-lifes included pictures with skulls, mirrors, butterflies, flowers and hour glasses with sand running out. More symbolic pictures had traditional religious objects such as communion goblets, bread and wine. Some still-lifes are quite large and represent kitchen interiors, guns, dogs and large amounts of raw and cooked food. These could also have religious connotations, such as Christ in the house of Mary and Martha.

Examples of early still-lifes include a "Madonna" done by Roger van der Weyden in about 1470 and a flower piece done in 1562 by Ludger tom Ring. The Italian painter Caravaggio did small baskets of fruit early in his career, and Recco and Ruoppolo did fish pieces in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In Spain the artists Zurbaran, Cotan and Melendez followed Caravaggio with still-lifes of their own. The Impressionists experimented with color in flower pieces, with Cezanne doing the most to increase the form's popularity.

 
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