Kalf’s pronks seem to challenge the beauty of the original objects, according to Norman Bryson in Looking the Overlooked; Four Essays on Still Life Paintings, it seems like if he wanted to establish painting as a superior form of art above all others. If he could paint these objects in a way that would look better than the original, that meant that painting could outdo all other forms of decorative arts. According to Bryson, Goethe (the man regarded as the pinnacle of German literature) wrote about one of Kalf’s paintings; ”One must see the picture in order to understand in what sense art is superior to nature and what the spirit of man imparts to objects. For me, at least there is no question that should I have the choice of the golden vessels or the picture, I would choose the picture”.
See below some of Kalf paintings and my photographic rendering of them.
Willem Kalf - Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar (oil on canvas, 1669) Indianapolis Museum of Art