Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Golden Era of Dutch Still Life. Objects Used Part II

As promised last week, this post will cover some other objects used by these painters.

Pass Glass – Another very common object in the Dutch Still Life paintings. These were usually octagonal glasses that were used for beer in drinking games. The glass had a blue glass swirl going around that was used to measure the beer in it. The glass was passed on from player to player(hence their name). The player in turn had to drink from measure to measure in one gulp, if he missed (no women were allowed) then he had to do it again. Rembrandt is holding one of these in his well known “Rembrandt and Saskia in the Scene of the Prodigal Son in the Tavern” (see at right). Experts believe that the glass was cheap in the XVII Century which explains why you can see it in a Tavern. I found similar replicas made by Czech glass blowers, although circular and not octagonal. I email them about purchasing one, but apparently eCommerce is not well developed there.

Tazza – This is a wide, ornate chalice that was used to drink wine. It appears in many Ontbijt and  banketjes pieces from the Claesz; both Pieter and Willem. Sometimes they showed it knocked down, revealing the detail of the base. This was meant to tell you that the meal or occasion was over and a symbol that things/people fall and sometimes break.

Buckelpokal – Also called Nuremberg Cup or even Pineapple cup  (see at left). These were very rare, expensive, tall and beautiful goblets apparently for beer (Dutch have always been specially fond of this beverage). The one most often painted by the Dutch Masters were gilded or golden. Willem Kalf, Abraham Van Bayeren and  Jans Davidz de Heem used them profusely in their Pronkstillevens or Pronks. 

Kalf was an art dealer so he had easy access to this and other ostentatious objects. Today, I could only find these Buckenpokal cups at museums (see one here); I saw one for auction starting about $22,000.00 although apparently you could get them for as low as $2,100.00. So, you won’t see any of these in my photos. If you have one sitting around and are willing to lend it or rent to me it would be wonderful. The one shown in the photo at left is at display at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Flute Glass. These were tall flute glasses normally shown with wine or beer. Pieter Claesz and Willem Claesz Heda used them quite often as shown in his still life “Breakfast with crab” (at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia) and ”Ham and Silverware”. The one I used in my “Still Life a la Kalf” is made in Sweden according to the traditions of the times. The one shown at right can be seen at the Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

At the bottom, a classic Ponkstilleven or Ostentatious Still Life that also includes a Wan-Li plate on top of a great salt, lots of exotic foods, lobster, crab all beautifully arranged on a blue velvet table cloth. I thought it would be a good idea to show a painting with some of the objects described in the first and second part of this series. Pieter de Ring combined opposite colors like blue and red to create a sharp contrast and designed a beautiful smooth transition with yellows and oranges. 

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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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