Given we are entering the season of thanks, I was suddenly struck by a sense of gratitude for the bounty I enjoy and frequently take for granted. I was raised in poverty, food was not always available, with such a background my weekly trek to the local Whole Foods can at times feel overwhelming. I was made aware of this fact last Saturday, the usually busy market was even more alive with teeming shoppers eager to make this Thanksgiving more memorable than any other. The grocers responded with even more alluring displays of produce, most particularly lovely fragrant bouquets of celery, such a modest vegetable possessing such verdant beauty. These supremely suburban displays of abundance reminded me of another time and place in which ostentatious displays of luxury were enjoyed with unreserved relish- the 17th century pronk still life paintings of Northern Europe, in particular the lavish work of Jan de Heem.
With that in mind, the following images are my Thanksgiving greetings, please remember to click upon the image, the attention to detail is beguiling..
Jan Davidsz. de Heem
Still Life with Parrots
Ringling Museum of Art
Jan de Heem
Still life with ham, lobster and fruit
Museum Bolijman Van Beuninjen
Even this vegetarian finds this traif image alluring.
Of course Jan de Heem wasn’t the only practitioner of the pronk genre; other gifted artists were able to capture the lavish displays of seductive imported goods for our voyeuristic delight.
Still life with Fruit, a Parrot and Polecat Ferrets
mid 17th cent.
Of course the French were adept at depicting luxury, and although the following image isn’t necessarily pronk, it is delightfully overwrought.
Alexandre François Desportes
Still life with Silver
In the French fashion, this marvelous image of Anthony and Cleopatra enjoying a luxurious spread, is a visual delight. I am particularly tickled by the absence of food, the love of ostentatious display does not allow for anything as banal as mere grub, gold suffices.
The Banquet of Anthony and Cleopatra
I will close with a frankly sentimental and boldly Christian image, that of Jan de Heem’s meditation upon the blessed Eucharist. It really is quite stunning.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
With that, I wish a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving day.
Until next time,