Monday, January 31, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 1/31/11

A more organized person than myself would have started her flower series with this post:

Willem Claesz. Heda, Still Life, 1634, Oil on panel, 16 7/8 x 22 7/8 in., Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam

from H. W. Janson's History of Art on Dutch Baroque still lifes:

"Most Dutch Baroque still lifes treat the theme of Vanitas (the vanity of all earthly things). Overtly or implicitly, they preach the virtue of temperance, frugality, and hard work by admonishing the viewer to contemplate the brevity of life, the inevitability of death, and the passing of all earthly pleasures. The medieval tradition of imbuing everyday objects with religious significance was absorbed into vernacular culture through emblem books which, together with other forms of popular literature and prints, encompassed the prevailing ethic in words and pictures. . . .

The banquet (or breakfast) piece, showing the remnants of a meal, had Vanitas connotations almost from the beginning. The message may lie in such established symbols as death's heads and extinguished candles, or be conveyed by less direct means. Still Life by Willem Claesz. Heda (above) belongs to this widespread type. Food and drink are less emphasized here than luxury objects, such as crystal goblets and silver dishes, which are carefully juxtaposed for their contrasting shape, color, and texture. . . . But virtuosity was not Heda's only aim. He reminds us that all is Vanity. His "story," the human context of these grouped objects, is suggested by the broken glass, the half-peeled lemon, the overturned silver dish. The unstable composition, with its signs of a hasty departure, is itself a reference to transience. Whoever sat at this table has been suddenly forced to abandon the meal. The curtain that time has lowered on the scene, as it were, invests the objects with a strange pathos."
(source for image and quote: History of Art by H. W. Janson - 5th ed., revised and expanded by Anthony F. Janson, published by Prentice Hall, Inc. and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York © 1995)


Kym Hepworth, clock, top hat and flowers

Kym Hepworth, clock face with flowers

R.E.M. - Time After Time (AnnElise)

Kym Hepworth, clock, top hat and flowers 2

Kym Hepworth, detail, clock face with flowers 1

Kym Hepworth, detail, clock face with flowers 2

(In case you're wondering, this beautiful floor clock was made by the talented Robert Miller. Flowers and top hat are not included.)

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