The Magic of Things

Still Life Painting 1500–1800

20 March to 17 August 2008

Dewdrops on dainty petals, light glancing off glass drinking goblets and precious silver dishes, candied sweetmeats in blue-and-white porcelain bowls from China, the delicate fluff of a peach, the pallor of a skull...To this day, still lives captivate us with their close-up views of objects no longer living but far from lifeless, reproduced with painterly finesse and subtle colouration. However, still life painting from 1500 to 1800 was anything but a purely aesthetic matter, even if the present-day viewer tends to perceive it as such. The exhibition “The Magic of Things. Still Life Painting 1500–1800” was designed to convey both aspects – the genre’s aesthetic pleasure as well as its contemporary context with regard to meaning and function.

With more than ninety masterworks, the show spread out a panorama of the still life’s development in the Netherlands and Germany from its beginnings in the late fifteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century. To this end, it united the superb holdings of the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt and the Kunstmuseum Basel, enhanced by a number of selected loans from other collections, public and private.

CURATOR: Prof. Dr. Jochen Sander, Städel Museum
FURTHER VENUE: Kunstmuseum Basel, 9/7/2008–1/4/2009