Huge clam shells were a common feature in paintings of the birth of Venus, and other classical myths. They also feature in many ‘vanitas’ paintings.
With the Rococo in full swing, still life painting was left in the hands of the popular eccentric Chardin, and the brilliant Anne Vallayer-Coster.
It flourished and brought commercial success to many artists, and laid the foundations for sub-genres. Still lifes were among the most innovative and exciting paintings of the day.
Between about 1607-21 she painted exclusively still lifes. Highly innovative, she led the way for the many painters who succeeded her.
She was in Suriname for two years, painting butterflies, moths, their relationships with plants and their lifecycles, but had to return early with malaria.
She set out to investigate, document and paint the lifecycles of butterflies and moths at a time when most thought they arose spontaneously.
Until the seventeenth century, still life paintings were occasional curiosities, From the Romans and Hans Memling to the early Dutch Golden Age the genre developed steadily.
After his severe stroke, Lovis Corinth used still lifes to learn to paint with his right hand. Charles Demuth found solace in them when recovering from acute diabetic complications.
Throughout his forty-year artistic career, he made a successful living not from painting the enigmatic group portraits for which he’s now famous, but floral still lifes.
For William Merritt Chase, they were initially a good way of raising money. Later they turned into performance art when he used them as demonstrations for his students.