Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Golden Age of Dutch Still Life. Objects Used Part I

As explained in previous posts, the Dutch Masters of Still Life used very luxurious objects in their paintings. This has been the main deterrent for many years preventing me from trying to reproduce them using a camera. It took a lot of research to find out the names of these objects and what their purpose was at the time. Some of these objects had a special meaning, like the skulls, shells, etc. This post series is not meant to be an exhaustive inventory of all of them, but for those interested in this topic it will provide some light about the paintings or the photographs.
 Roemer – This is a glass in several sizes, sometimes real big sometimes smaller. It appears very often in all these paintings, normally with white wine or water. The base could be round or sometimes had small spikes similar to a Berkemeyer (see Berkemeyer). The glass stem is hollow and has prunts on the outside. These prunts could have different shapes, sometimes they looked like berries, sometimes like spikes. At the time, people ate with their hands which were greasy; the prunts helped prevent the glass from slipping. The name Roemer (sometimes seen as rummer) comes from the German word “Roman”.You can see a large roemer in this photo.
Wan-Li Kraak Porcelain Dishes – Another widely used object by Dutch painters of the time. These are very thin, blue and white decorated dishes and bowls from the Chinese Ming Dynasty, Wan-li period (hence their name). They were exported to Europe in massive amounts and very appreciated by the wealthy of the times. These dishes were copied in several parts of the world and when they became unavailable, the Dutch made their own, which today are known as Blue Delft (they no longer have Chinese motives). An interesting note, Dutch Blue Delft is not porcelain but earth ware because they are not made from Kaolin, the clay variety needed to produce porcelain. 
Berkemeyer – This German/Dutch glass was definitely popular in Holland at the time and it was included very often in Still Life paintings of the time. It looks very similar to a Roemer, both being hollow with a thick stem; however the Berkemeyer top is a conical bowl whether the Roemer is oval. Berkemeyers are the most commonly found glass from the Seventeenth century, at the time was customary to hold it by the foot. See Frank Hals painting “The Merry Drinker” where is clearly shown how the Berkemeyer should be held. To have a better understanding of the size, you can see next to a flute glass here

Next article, I will cover the Pass Glass, Tazza, Buckelpokal and Flute Glass…. stay tuned.
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You can read more articles about this topic by clicking on Dutch Golden Age Still Life label at right panel.

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