Audio Stop 403
Still Life with Peacock Pie, 1627
Not On View
Not On View
Still Life with Peacock Pie by Pieter Claesz, painted in 1627. Oil on panel. The painting is about 2 and a half feet high by over 4 feet wide.
This description is about 4 minutes long.
An assortment of dishes with sweets, fruit, and game, as well as utensils and glasses, are spread out along a table covered by a white cloth. Most striking is a pie topped by a peacock’s head, wings, and tail at the back right corner of the table.
The front left corner of the table fits into the bottom corner of the painting, making it feel close to us. The table extends off the right edge of the composition. Most of the table is covered by a white tablecloth, with creases where it has been previously folded. It stops short of the right edge, where another cloth beneath it is patterned with a brick-red trellis against a salmon pink background.
The table is set against a dark brown background.
Now let’s work our way across the table from left to right.
At the back left corner is a glass containing pale, straw-colored wine. The glass has a wide, flaring bowl and a thick stem with raised glass knobs. The wine in the glass casts a golden light onto the white tablecloth to the right. Standing to the right of the glass is a spouted pewter pitcher. It reflects the wineglass, as well as light from windows out of our view.
In front of the glass and pitcher are three pewter plates. The dish at left holds a crumpled white napkin and a tubular carrying case for a knife. Another thick-stemmed glass – empty this time – lies on its side, its rim resting on the plate. Two flat, round bread rolls, one of them broken and half eaten, sit on the tabletop in front of this plate.
A larger dish closer to the pitcher holds a small roasted bird, with browned skin. An ivory-handled knife rests with the blade on the rim of this plate. In front, on the smaller dish, are two lemons. One is whole, the other has been cut so the peel curls off the edge of the plate.
To the right of the roast bird is the peacock pie on a pewter platter. The tall, round pie has a golden-brown crust. A peacock head and feathers have been inserted to resemble the living bird. At left, the sea-green head and neck are upright, with a pink rose in the beak. The wings have been spread out, with long golden plumes above and smaller, fluffier dove gray feathers at the base. The golden tail feathers, with their deep blue eyes, extend into the top right of the composition.
A few more dishes and foodstuffs are clustered around the pie; these include a blue and white porcelain dish of green olives to the left and slightly behind the pie. In front of the pie a little square gold vessel is piled with salt flakes.
Two more dishes are placed in front of the pie, near the front edge of the table. At left is a pewter dish of assorted candies. Some are white sugar-coated tubes or bonbons. Some look like pastries or cookies. Others appear to be red candied fruits.
Finally, at the far right, a white porcelain bowl is painted with a dark green pattern. The bowl contains shiny, pale gold and pink apples and smaller peaches, still with their leaves. Two peaches, a few nuts, and a round bread roll lie on the tabletop nearby.
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