We are given to believe that the Dutch excelled in still life painting at a time when permanence of beauty brought pleasure to the eye starved of light during a long winter.
Perhaps. Art to salve the dispirited spirit?
Surviving winter gawking at a depiction of luscious fruit by Frans Snyders or Adrien Van Utrecht may have helped pass the time, but a still life in a dark corner also helped prolong the sensation of remembrance: that of taste, or of smell.
At Beaux Arts in Bath, there is a very fine still life artist: Helen Simmonds. Her works sells very well. I am not surprised. Winters today are not remotely like what the Dutch endured during their Golden Age in the 17th century, but the eye will always find solace in frozen movement.
There is much to admire in Simmonds’ Standing Still: her technical achievement with the shadow cast by the jug is clinical. A ten minute walk from Beaux Art will deliver you to the Holburne Museum, wherein is contained two of the best still life works to be found anywhere: Still Life With Game in a Garden by Jan Weenix and Still Life With Fruit by Cornelis de Bryer.