• Still Life with Clay Pipes

    Artist:
    Claesz., Pieter. 1597/98-1661
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    49x63,5 cm

Claesz., Pieter. 1597/98-1661

Still Life with Clay Pipes

Holland, 1636

No less than seascape, the still life genre was popular in Holland and there were many different kinds of it. In comparison with Flemish artists the Dutch less often depicted nature’s bounty and more often the hand-made objects that were the silent witnesses to and participants in people’s daily lives. This is the case, for example, with Pieter Claesz’s Still Life with Clay Pipes. The small number of objects are placed freely on the edge of the table and their asymmetry endows the composition with an especial naturalness. But the articles depicted are connected through meaning, and besides the obvious, everyday usage the artist invests them with a hidden meaning connected with the theme of the four elements. The clay items point to the element of Earth, the beer in the glass to Water, the brazier containing smouldering moss is associated with Fire, while the pipes and tobaccos are connected with Air. Still lifes from this period can be divided logically into two types – the vanitas in which a depiction of a skull invariably served as a reminder of the transience of all things and what were called “breakfasts”. This depiction of pipes and a brazier clearly belongs to neither of those types and is a sort of transition point from one tradition to the other. It can also be interpreted as an allegory typical for the idea of impermanence since the disappearing head on the beer is a symbol of the frailty of life. Pieter Claesz’s works are remarkable for the manner in which he conveys a silvery medium of light and air: the air seems to envelop the objects, creating a special atmosphere in the picture space.

Title:

Still Life with Clay Pipes

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

49x63,5 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1921; handed over from the V.N. Argutinsky-Dolgorukov collection

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-5619

Category:

Collection:

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