Monday, February 15, 2016

How to create a still life painting

Last night I discovered that I'd missed an excellent BBC programme called Apples, Pears and Paint: How To Make a Still Life Painting which was broadcast last month. It provides a history of what has historically been the least popular genre of painting - and the depiction of fruit, flowers and domestic objects - from the still life painting in Egypt and Pompeii to Cezanne and Picasso via Caravaggio.
It promoted me to revisit my lengthy post back in 2007 in which I collated the different definitions of What is a Still Life? I hugely enjoyed researching it at the time - across cultures, time periods and different art movements - and I've just enjoyed finding out how much better the images are that are available now compared to then! Consequently I've updated as many as I could. Plus I updated some links - but do shout if you find any duds!
If you missed it too, I hope you enjoy the 90 minute programme originally broadcast on BBC4 - it has lots of expert comment and some fabulous still life artworks. It's a real put your feet up and don't answer the phone programme - and you've got 23 days left to view it!  (If you watched it first time round, I've got a feeling it's a programme that's worth revisiting!)

I particularly loved seeing the size of the first ever official still life - a basket of fruit by Caravaggio - in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan

Canestra di frutta / Basket of Fruit (1596) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610)
Oil on canvas, 45.92 cm x 64.46 cm Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan, Italy

Apples, Pears and Paint: How to Make a Still Life Painting
BBC4 / BBCiPlayer
Don't miss the surprise at the beginning!
These are the links related to the programme


  1. BBC iPlayer TV programmes are available to play in the UK only. Too bad, it sounded interesting.

  2. I'm also based in the UK Joey - as are many of my readers.

    I understand the programmes do filter out overseas so it's worth watching out for.

  3. I have just watched this show, I thoroughly enjoyed it , almost as much as I enjoy painting still life!
    Still life is King, long live the King!

  4. This is such an informative documentary - thanks so much for mentioning it Katherine, and well done to BBC4 for making this available again on iplayer, since it was first shown in January 2014. Several things are good about it: not only how it champions the Still Life genre through its linear history but also how it traces its meaning, with insightful comments by philosopher Alain de Botton. Interestingly, it includes Chardin and describes how his observational works have some areas in sharp focus and others that are not - something that still life artists today may learn much from.


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