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Willem Kalf
(Dutch)


Still Life with Ewer, Vessels and Pomegranate, Mid 1640s
103.5 x 81.2 cm
Oil on canvas

Context:
Luxury objects, such as the ornate Mannerist ewer, steeple cup, and elegant glass vessels, are carefully arranged on a table in this Dutch still life. An open pomegranate and a bowl of fruit rest on white drapery. To the right, a lemon and three olives are reflected in a silver plate that rests precariously on the table’s edge. Behind this, a platter holds a tankard whose elaborate polished surface reflects the adjacent wineglass. Light falls from the left, playing across these precious objects and causing them to glitter and shine. Willem Kalf delighted in the play and contrast of transparent and reflective surfaces: the finely wrought metal of the ewer, the representation of smooth glass, the weave of the linen drapery, the dry crumbly texture of the bread, and the wet, shiny insides of the open pomegranate. At first glance, this still life implies an absence of human presence. But a closer look reveals just the opposite. The torn bread, half empty glass of wine, sliced fruit, and overturned glass allude to human intervention, as if these lavish delicacies were abruptly left on the table.

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA
No. 54.PA.1

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