National Gallery of Art    
Still Life feature navigation Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder Luis Meléndez Raphaelle Peale   Previous Page Next page
Still Life    

Still Life with Sweets and Pottery by Juan van der Hameny Leon
Juan van der Hamen y León, Still Life with Sweets and Pottery, 1627, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Samuel H. Kress Collection 1961.9.75


The Spanish delighted in the artificiality of still life. This work by Juan van der Hamen y León (1596-1631), Madrid's preeminent still-life painter of the preceding century, is typical: the setting is abstract and the background dark. The artist concentrates on the arrangement of objects—the round shapes of the boxes, jars, and pastries contrast with the square blocks on which they rest. He also represents texture and light with great accuracy. Looking closely at such a calculated composition is both an intellectual and a sensory experience.

Unlike Meléndez, whose objects are humble, van der Hamen portrayed expensive delicacies to appeal to the taste of his aristocratic patrons.

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