Pieter Claesz van Haarlem's "Still Life with Turkey Pie"

click to enlarge

(There's one of those peeled lemon's Cynthia H. mentioned in her post on vanitas paintings)

Here is a quote from the somewhat confusing but highly informative website Art/4/2DAY about this painting:

Since the Middle Ages one of the features of any banquet was the pie, a dish covered with pastry containing a filling which could be any of an infinite number of varieties of meat, fish, game, poultry, cheese, mushrooms or fruit. . . . A large turkey pie is the most eye-catching part of this richly decked table. The pie is crowned with a real, dead turkey. Pieter Claesz put his initials on the handle of the knife . . .  Claesz painted the still life in subdued tones. Older still lifes, such as Still Life with Cheeses by the Haarlem artist Floris van Dijck, are often more colorful.
    On the right on a small pewter plate, are pepper, spilling out of a rolled up almanac, and salt. Salt and pepper were very expensive in the seventeenth century. So too were lemons, grapes and olives. Besides these delicacies, Claesz also painted beautiful kitchen utensils like the porcelain dish containing fruit and the nautilus beaker beside it. Claesz strikingly renders the silk-like shine of the mother-of-pearl.
    In the seventeenth century a painting like this with attractive kitchen utensils and exotic delicatessen was called a 'banketgen', or banquet painting. Such a showpiece was made to hang in the house of a prosperous citizen.


  1. Yes, all these specific banquet paintings are amazingly accurate... and the flower still life ones are very beautiful too!

  2. Hi Kim-

    I see you've been bitten by the Dutch art bug too!
    Although the still lifes were deceptively humble and representational, it is known that they also contained lots of symbolism. The half-drunk wine glass, the half-peeled lemons, and the unbalanced p vessels about to spill their contents are all reminders of the precariousness of life, even amid the prosperity of Golden Age Holland. This treatment is called a "vanitas" (on the vanity or uselessness of earthly life), and the least subtle of these featured skulls. If I remember correctly, there is a still life with food AND a skull. That will dampen you appetite!

  3. hm. not much can dampen my appetite. not even that dead turkey. I love what you say about "vanitas"--and see more googling in my future featuring this term.

    Vera--they are so beautiful!


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