Still life has had a role in Western Painting for a long time, having initially had a secondary one as an element of characterisation of an atmosphere or a hermetic feature, gaining the autonomous status of a genre as from the 17th century, initially a reason why the essential narrative core of the image was deluding and almost concealed. First it satisfied the mimetic descriptions of objects – artificial or natural – and, being able to have a mere decorative function established itself in modern times as a genre capable of communicating maximum symbolic and expressive values.
Its ability to acknowledge and communicate meaningful lines of thought and existence led to the reassessment of still life by the History of Art, including, notably, the rigorous research of Peter Cherry, curator of the exhibition. The volume published to accompany the show allows an insight into the theme, through the essays and the individual studies of all paintings, written by such scholars as Peter Cherry, John Loughman and Lesley Stevenson. Volume II, devoted to still-life painting in the 19th and 20th centuries, will be published on the occasion of the next show taking place in 2011.
- Peter Cherry, John Loughman, Lesley Stevenson
- Editorial coordination:
- João Carvalho Dias
- Calouste Gulbenkian Museum