Still Life with Bread and Sweetmeats
Oil on wood
Inv. No. 2055
22 × 17 cm
Confectionery items first appeared as the subject of still lifes around 1600, when the import of sugar cane gradually replaced honey as a sweetener. Candied sugar, also known as "ice sugar", originated in Madeira or in the Canary Islands. In this tiny painting from his late period, Flegel exhibits technical skill and his talent as a keen observer. He expertly renders the charateristics of various materials and depicts different ways of preparing candied fruit. To the right are two figs with a sparkling, crystalline sugar crust. The bowl contains candied fruit topped with powdered sugar. Paintings depicting such luxury goods were popular among Frankfurt's well-to-do burghers, but the symbolism in Flegel's pictures was intended to qualify this attraction with a religious and moral message.