Dutch Renaissance

The equivalent of an social media post in the 17th Century at the Dutch Renaissance! I was always fascinated with the almost photographic paintings of the Dutch Golden Age, countless were painted, and sadly few survived. Still-life paintings of tables overflowing with food, wine, flowers and also depicting the occasional mouse, bird or insect. Those paintings were not highly regarded at the time, very different now.

It was a period of merchants and bankers, unprecedented class mobility and wealth in Dutch society. But sadly also a time of not much worldly fun. The Reformed Calvinist Protestant church had a stronghold on morals. Still-lifes developed into hidden messages, picture novels which make us now little voyeurs. A night of romance with the finest treats, gluttony, a secret rendezvous or a party with the wine overflow, a moral reminder - it is all in the painting.

Oysters & fruit have erotic overtones. Meat, lobster & shellfish, mean wealth, gluttony or temptation, and there are always lemons to remind us of the bittersweetness of life.

Poppies are the character of the mortal sin of laziness as they produce opium: a rose, the flower of Venus, symbol of love & sex. A rare glass suggested a life of luxury and of course, WINE - well, I leave its meaning to your imagination...

Ulrike x

Photo: Jan Davidsz, Still life with Ham, Lobster and Fruit, c 1653
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