still life or still-life - A picture of inanimate objects. Common still life subjects include vessels, food, flowers, books, clothing.
A still life painting which reminds us of life's fleeting qualities is called a vanitas. A still life image of things associated with breakfast is called an ontbijt or breakfast piece.
This genre flourished particularly among Dutch painters of the seventeenth century, and the term itself originated in the Dutch language as "" and "". Jean Chardin (French, 1699-1769) is the most universally admired painter of still lifes. Chardin painted many pictures of everyday items, including kettles, vegetables, and earthenware vessels, with superb modeling of color, light, and texture.
The plural form is "still lifes." (Note its use in the preceding paragraph.) This construction might sound awkward. The plural of "life" is "lives," but to say "still lives" treats this term too literally, and fails to maintain its idiomatic heritage. Writers looking for a better-sounding alternative to "still lifes" might substitute "still life pictures," "still life paintings," or "still life photographs" perhaps.
See numerous examples:
By artists born before 1700
Among them are Juan Sanchez Cotan, Georg Flegel, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Clara Peeters, Willem Claesz. Heda, Pieter Claesz, Francisco de Zurbarán, Floris van Schooten, Adriaen van Ostade, Willem Kalf, Hubert van Ravesteyn, Jan Fyt, Pieter van de Venne, Samuel van Hoogstraten, and Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin.
By artists born between 1701 and 1850
Among them are James Peale, Raphaelle Peale, Rubens Peale, William Henry Fox Talbot, George Cochran Lambdin, Henri Fantin-Latour, Severin Roesen, George Walter Harris, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Paul Gauguin.
By artists born between 1851 and 1900
Among them are Vincent van Gogh, John Frederick Peto, William J. McCloskey, Georges Seurat, Alfred Henry Maurer, Henri Matisse, Marsden Hartley, Walt Kuhn, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Charles Demuth, Ben Benn, Robert Delaunay, Edward Weston, Juan Gris, Gerald Murphy, and Joan Miró.
By artists born during the twentieth century
Among them are Pili Pili Mulongoya, Wayne Thiebaud, Richard Diebenkorn, Brian Connelly, Ralph Goings, Audrey Flack, Tom Wesselmann, Flora C. Mace, and Joey Kirkpatrick.
Also see botanical, ikebana, and vanitas.