Museum  November 21, 2019

Still Lives that Delight the Senses

Carnegie Museum of Art

Severin Roesen, Still Life with Fruit (detail), ca. 1854–1855, Carnegie Museum of Art, Gift of Gulf Oil Corporation, a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation.

Pittsburgh, PA—Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) is excited to present a new exhibition exploring the rich tradition of still life painting in A Delight for the Senses: The Still LifeOnce considered the lowliest genre of painting, the still life has long been overshadowed in the history of art; in this exhibition, visitors will encounter examples from nearly 250 years of the tradition, from the Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish painting to America’s Gilded Age. 

On the surface, these picturesque arrangements are easy to appreciate for their aesthetic beauty and skillful rendering. A closer look at these sumptuous, calculated arrays of objects ranging from the mundane to the luxurious reveals moral undertones and allusions to the transience of life. The exhibition asks visitors to look closely and unearth meanings that resonate with them while considering the tradition of this once humble genre.

Carnegie Museum of Art

Albert Francis King, Late Night Snack, ca. 1900, Carnegie Museum of Art, Purchase, Gift of R. K. Mellon Family Foundation.

Special loans from the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Frick Pittsburgh, and several local private collections will be featured, along with recent bequests from the late Drue Heinz that include the first Golden Age still life in the museum's collection: Still Life with Lemons, ca. 1660, a painting by Jacob Fopsen van Es that makes its debut in this exhibition.

"We are particularly excited to show the van Es painting," says Akemi May, assistant curator of Fine Arts. "It's a marriage of perfectly balanced composition and remarkable technical skill that embody this high point in the still life genre. You almost want to reach out and pick up the lemon peel."

Carnegie Museum of Art

Jacob Fopsen van Es, Still Life with Lemons, ca. 1660, Carnegie Museum of Art, Gift of the Drue Heinz Charitable Trust.

A Delight for the Senses: The Still Life is curated by Akemi May, assistant curator, Fine Arts, Carnegie Museum of Art. 

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