By Harry Berger Jr
Caterpillage is a examine of seventeenth-century Dutch nonetheless lifestyles portray. It develops an interpretive technique in accordance with the author's earlier experiences of portraiture, and its target is to provide its readers a brand new solution to imagine and discuss the style of nonetheless life.The booklet starts with a critique of iconographic discourse and especially of iconography's remedy of vanitas symbolism. It is going directly to argue that this remedy has a tendency to divert realization from nonetheless life's darker meanings and from the genuine personality of its site visitors with loss of life. Interpretations of nonetheless lifestyles that target the conceit of human event and the mutability of lifestyles reduce the effect made by means of the illustration of such voracious pillagers of plants as bugs, snails, and caterpillars. The message despatched through nonetheless life's preoccupation with those small-scale predators isn't really purely vanitas.It is rapacitas. Caterpillage additionally explores the influence of this message at the that means of the genre's French identify. We use the normal time period nature morte (dead nature) with no giving any suggestion to how deceptive it's. simply because such a lot of portrayals of nonetheless existence contain minimize plant life, which, even though nonetheless in bloom, are demise, it might be extra exact to call the style nature mourant. the topics of nonetheless lifestyles are crops which are nonetheless dwelling, vegetation which are loss of life yet no longer but useless
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Extra resources for Caterpillage : reflections on seventeenth century Dutch still life painting
Invitations to eat well jostled up against the vain ghosts of long dead diners who ate perhaps too well or too carelessly. If there is a message in all these exquisite messes, if—as we’re often told—they were intended to provoke iconographic pricklings, museum going fails to support the program. Painted feasts for the eye tend to encourage an eye for the feast. So it isn’t surprising that someone who saw me staring at Floris van Dijck’s early-seventeenth-century still life of food on a table (Plate 2) asked if it made me hungry.
17 Like de Jongh, he generally accepts and works with the conventional range of meanings ascribed to the vanitas. ”18 The most ironic manifestation of the vanitas occurs at the botanico-historical level. It concerns the true cause of the apparently spontaneous generation of the brilliant “ﬂames” or “breaks” that made tulips so valuable: What the Dutch could not have known was that a virus was responsible for the magic of the broken tulip, a fact that . . doomed the beauty it made possible. .
9 By reading such images as symbols, iconography captures their details and transforms them into textual denotations. They become metonymies, interchangeable parts of preexisting wholes. The presence of objects like a skull, a timepiece, or a burning fuse has a contagious effect. All the items in their neighborhood contract the vanitas and become symptoms of supposedly preexisting bodies of belief. It would be misleading to overstate the prevalence of this malady. And in recent decades scholars have given new depth and richness to the concept of vanitas.
Caterpillage : reflections on seventeenth century Dutch still life painting by Harry Berger Jr