Artists & Illustrators

2. STILL LIFE painting

Still life painting in the west appeared as early as 3,500 years ago in Egypt. Images of mundane objects useful in a good afterlife adorn murals of daily life in Egyptian frescoes and tomb paintings. They were commonly interwoven with images of workers, kings and gods, rather than being individual paintings. Compositionally, these arrangements, and their often symbolic and narrative qualities, were a subset of larger images that also had symbolic and narrative qualities.

In the classical periods of ancient Greece and Rome, still life paintings achieved a vibrant level of naturalism and enjoyment for their own sake. Woven into household frescoes in wealthy Pompeian homes, still life paintings provided visual delight to the residents as they included food, books, flowers, gardens and animals. Symbolic objects were also part of figurative images of the gods and goddesses, read as part of the visual story unfolding on fresco walls.

Medieval painting and book illumination traditions in Europe elevated the role of still life objects to new heights of symbolic narrative, not unlike that of ancient Egypt. Chalices, swords, objects of torture, flowers

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