9 March through 25 June 2017
The Mauritshuis treats you to richly set tables piled high with tempting morsels and precious objects this spring. Slow Food: Still Lifes of the Golden Age is the first exhibition to be devoted to the development of meal still lifes.
The cornerstone of this exhibition is a masterpiece acquired by the museum in 2012, Still Life with Cheeses, Almonds and Pretzels by Clara Peeters. Alongside this work the exhibition also features masterpieces from the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Washington’s National Gallery of Art, Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum and others.
From 1600 onwards, richly set tables piled high with tempting morsels and precious objects became a popular artistic theme. The detailed depiction of food, fine silver and glassware laid out on the table was a subject favoured by various painters. The Mauritshuis traces the development of this genre through a selection of some twenty paintings. The earliest meal still lifes came from Antwerp, where they were executed by artists such as Clara Peeters and Osias Beert. At the same time the genre flourished in the Northern Netherlands thanks to the work of Haarlem-based painters like Floris van Dijck and Nicolaes Gilles.
The paintings are a feast for the eye. The masters of the meal still life opted for delicacies such as fish, oysters, prawns, cheese, charcuterie, bread and titbits such as olives or nuts. Arranged artfully between the items of food are fine glassware, gilded goblets, pottery jugs or oriental porcelain, all rendered in the finest detail. Peeters’ Still Life with Cheeses, Almonds and Pretzels, for example, lovingly depicts the crumbly texture of the ripened cheeses, the creaminess of the butter curls shaved from the pat and the delicate play of reflected light on the knife. Peeters’ paintings are a precursor to later works such as the panel by Pieter Claesz donated to the Friends of the Mauritshuis Foundation by Willem Baron Van Dedem. The stacked cheeses seen in Peeters’ painting also feature in the work of Floris van Dijck, arranged on a meticulously painted damask napkin.
The Mauritshuis and Waanders Publishers will present a catalogue to accompany the exhibition. Slow Food: Dutch and Flemish meal Still Lifes 1600-1640 contains more than 100 colour illustrations. The catalogue is published in English and Dutch and is written by Quentin Buvelot, Senior Curator at the Mauritshuis with additional contributions by Yvonne Bleyerveld, Milou Goverde, Zoran Kwak, Anne Lenders, Fred G. Meijer and Charlotte Rulkens.
The exhibition has been made possible thanks to the support of the Friends of the Mauritshuis Foundation, NN Group, Dutch Masters Foundation, Turing Foundation and BankGiro Loterij. The compilation of the catalogue was aided in part by generous donations from the Stichting dr. Hendrik Muller’s Vaderlandsch Fonds and the Prince Bernhard Cultuurfonds.