mona lisa smileLove reading analysis of famous paintings? 

Explore 250 top art paintings with the Famous Paintings ebook - and discover highlights in U.S. and European art museumsWith sortable data and introductory art essays. 

download-250-paintings-ebook

Then try smiling like that. 

 

Famous Paintings Reviewed

Famous Painters: Clara Peeters

Posted by Susan Benford

Although Clara Peeters is recognized as one of the founders of still life painting, nearly nothing is known about her life, teachers, or patrons.  Equally remarkable, the Prado Museum, nearly 200 years old, is holding its first solo exhibition of a female painter. Introducing Clara Peeters.

She was born in the Netherlands around 1588-1590, and was most active from 1611-1612.  A contemporary of famous painters like Rubens, Jan Brueghel the Elder, and van 
Clara Peeters still life painting

Above: Still Life with Raisins, 1611.  Oil on panel, approximately 20" by 29". Prado Museum, Madrid.

Dyck, Peeters was a dedicated still life painter committed to depicting the true appearance of objects.  This distinguishes her on two fronts:

  • when she began working in still life painting in the early 17th century, there were but a few works of this genre held in collections in Southern Netherlands; and
  • her pursuit of realism was in contrast to the idealism that was typical of Renaissance paintings.

There are just 40 known paintings by Peeters, of which 30 are signed.  As noted by art historian Maria Cruz de Carlos, the collection at the Prado includes over 5,000 male artists and 21 female artists, with many works labeled "anonymous".  Some of these anonymous works are likely to be by women, who were seldom encouraged to pursue art.

We can only hope that in time, more works as stunning as these will be attributed to Peeters, one of the few women artists in early modern Europe.

Still Life with Raisins (or Still Life with Flowers, Gilt Goblet, Dried Fruits, Sweets, Bread Sticks, Biscuits, Wine and a Pewter Flagon)

With such a dearth of biographical information, the objects in her paintings offer clues about her life and the lives of her clients.  Here, the precious objects are those typically associated with prosperity, education, and culture, including items like seashells, silver-gilt goblets and cups, silver salt cellars, and glittering gold coins.  Her success is also suggested by inclusion of her artwork in collections in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Madrid, a rarity for female artists.

Still Life with Raisins creates a remarkable sense of three dimensional space and realism.  Her use of tenebrism (in a tenebrist painting, most objects or figures are in shadow while some are illuminated dramatically) reminds us that tenebrists, especially Caravaggio, deeply influenced Baroque artists.

This composition breaks with typical still life paintings by ignoring the compositional symmetry typical of the time.  The artist, dressed in a headdress, ruff and high dress, captured her self-portrait in the reflections on the silver-gilt goblet and the pewter jug. Concurrently, Still Life with Raisins retains other commonly seen elements of this genre: repetition of objects that seem almost casually strewn on a table.

Still Life with Flowers and Goblets (or Still Life with Flowers, Gilt Goblets, Coins and Shells)

Peeters included her self portrait, reflected on various shiny surfaces, in eight of her paintings (six of these are included in the Prado exhibition).  Clara Peeters paintingsStill Life with Flowers, Gilt Goblets, Coins and Shells, 1612.  Oil on panel, approximately 26" by 22". Saatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe, Germany


In Still Life with Flowers, Gilt Goblets, Coins and Shells, there are at least six self portraits on the goblet on the right; she is grasping her brushes and palette and portraying herself as a committed, serious painter.  

In the context of her time, this stance is understandable and bold: she was working in an art world run by all-male art guilds. Curiously, at least six of the panels she painted upon have marks on them indicating they were prepared in the Antwerp painter's guild, where she was not a registered member.

Again here, the items painted here are exotic, pricey objects that would have been displayed in "cabinets of curiosity" of 17th century wealthy citizens.

Still Life with Fish, Candle, Artichokes, Crabs and Prawns

This remarkably executed work is considered one of Clara Peeters' finest paintings. As noted by Alejandro Vergara, the art exhibition's curator and the Prado's Chief Curator of Flemish and Northern School Painting:

"The rhythmic contrast between rounded and jagged shapes (as in the colander and the artichoke) and between patterns (in the surface decoration of the stoneware jug and the scales of the fish and holes of the colander) is characteristic of her art." 1/

On the lid of the stonewear jug, there is another self-portrait; here, the artist wears a large headpiece.  The previously burned but unlit candle is likely a vanitas theme about the unavoidable passage of time.

And then there are the artichokes.  This vegetable, a rarity until the second half of the 16th century, was regarded as an aphrodisiac.  They appeared in several other Peeters' paintings as well as in works by Jan Brueghel the Elder. 

Still Life with Fish, Candle, Artichokes, Crabs and Prawns is also the earliest known fish still life painting, and may perhaps be the earliest ever painted.  Roughly one-quarter of her existing works are fish still life paintings, leading to the hypothesis that she became somewhat of a specialist.  

True or not, Peeters was indisputably an innovator.

Clara Peeters still lifeAbove: Still Life with Fish, Candle, Artichokes, Crabs and Prawns, 1611. Oil on panel, approximately 22" by 32".  Prado Museum, Madrid.

1/ Vergara, Alejandro (ed.), El Arte de Clara Peeters, Madrid y Amberes, Museo Nacional del Prado, Koniklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 2016, pp. 96.

Interested in learning about other female artists who defied the odds and became famous painters? Read about Sofonisba Anguissola and Artemisia Gentileschi, contemporaries of Peeters, and explore this brief survey of female artists. 

Like what you're seeing here? Sign up for this blog, Famous Paintings Reviewed. 

  Join Art History Blog

 

 

 

 

Join this Blog - (and add your thoughts!)

Feeling Lucky?

famous paintings cards

Good - because we're feeling generous!

Join this blog and earn a chance to win a FREE set of Masterpiece Cards (a $60 value). 

Enter Me to Win!

Famous Paintings ebook

This free ebook has a wealth of facts and articles about the 250 influential paintings in Masterpiece Cards.

Did we mention it's free? d0e42560-d745-43b3-8b2d-9ee2d3273b82

Famous Painters Blogroll

Anguissola, Three Sisters Playing Chess and Phillip II of Spain

Beckmann, Blind Man's Buff

Beckmann, Departure; Self-Portrait in Tuxedo; Sinking of Titanic

Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Missouri

BonheurPlowing in the Nivernais

Bonheur, The Horse Fair

Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights

Botticelli, Primavera

Caillebotte, Gustave, The Floor Scrapers; The House Painters; Pont de l'Europe; Paris Street, Rainy Day; Fruit Displayed on a Stand

Caravaggio, Fashion and Art History

CaravaggioConversion of St. Paul

Caravaggio, Young, Sick Bacchus and Basket of Fruit

Caravaggio, Cardsharps and Fortune Teller

Caravaggio, St. Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy

Caravaggio, Taking of Christ (Kiss of Judas)

Caravaggio Paintings at the Villa Borghese

Cave Paintings

Cezanne, Bathers 

Cezanne, Card Players

Cezanne, Madame Cezanne Paintings

Cezanne, Most Famous Paintings

Cezanne, Red Dress series

Copley, Paul Revere

David, Death of Marat 

David, Death of Socrates

David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps

de Kooning, Retrospective at MoMA (Part I)

de Kooning,Excavation and Painting, 1948 

de KooningWoman I

Degas, The Bellilli Family, The Dance Class, In a Cafe (Absinthe Drinker)

Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People  

Diebenkorn, The Ocean Park Series

Duncanson, Robert Seldon.  Art History Welcomes Duncanson 

Durer, The Four Apostles

El Greco, Burial of Count Orgaz

El Greco, View of Toledo

FontanaPortrait of a Noblewoman

Frankenthaler, Color Field Painting and Mountains and Sea

Gainsborough, The Blue Boy

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Judith Beheading Holofernes

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting 

Ghent Altarpiece.  

GiorgioneThree Philosophers 

Goya, Duchess of Alba

Goya, Family of Charles IV

Goya, Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta

Goya, The Third of May 1808 

Goya, Duchess of Alba; Saturn Devouring his Son; Two Old Men; Half-Submerged Dog; Black Paintings

Grunewald, Isenheim Altarpiece

Hals, Banquet of the Officers of the St. George Civic Guard

Hals, The Laughing Cavalier

Hals, Regents of St. Elizabeth's Hospital

Hopper, Nighthawks

Ingres, Grande Odalisque and Portrait of Madame Moissetier

Ingres, Oedipus and the Sphinx

Isenheim Altarpiece

Kahlo, Renowned Frida Kahlo Paintings.  

Angelica Kauffmann.  Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting and David Garrick.  

Klimt, The Kiss and Adele Bloch-Bauer

Lawrence, Great Migration Series

Leonardo, Painter at the Court of Milan, National Gallery, London 

Leonardo, La Bella Principessa 

Leonardo, New Mona Lisa

Leonardo, Benois Madonna and Madonna Litta 

Leonardo, Savior of the World(Salvator Mundi) 

Leonardo, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne

Leyster, Famous Female Painters

20 Louvre Paintings not to Miss 

ManetA Bar at the Folies-Bergere

Manet, Luncheon in the Studio

Manet, The Old Musician

Manet, Street Singer

MantegnaDead Christ

Matisse Paintings, In Search of True Painting

Matisse, The DanceThe Music

Matisse, The Cone Collection

Matisse, The Red Studio

Matisse, The Yellow Dress

Michelangelo, Crucifixion with the Madonna

Michelangelo, Famous Paintings

Michelangelo, La Pieta with Two Angels (latest attribution?)

Michelangelo, St. John the Baptist Bearing Witness

Modersohn-Becker, Famous Female Painters

Monet, Impression, Sunrise

Monet, Nymphaes, Le Pont de l'Europe

Monet Paintings at the Marmottan Monet Museum

Monet, Waterlilies

Morisot, Famous Paintings

MorisotMore Famous Paintings

Munch, The Scream

O'Keeffe, Jack in the Pulpit

Picasso, Girl Before a Mirror

Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust

Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein

Picasso, Las Meninas

Piero della Francesca, The Baptism of Christ

Pippin, Domino Players and Cabin in the Cotton

Poussin, Assumption of the Virgin

Raphael, Sistine Madonna

Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer 

Rembrandt, Night Watch

Rembrandt paintings at Frick Show

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait at an Early AgeJeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, The Jewish Bride

Rembrandt, The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild

Rubens, Venus and Adonis

Sanchez Cotan, Spanish Still-life

Sargent, El Jaleo

Sargent, Madame X

Sargent, Smoke of Ambergris

Steen, The Christening Feast 

Steen paintings at Frick Show

Tanner, The Banjo Lesson and The Thankful Poor

Titian, Assumption of the Virgin

Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne

Titian, Man with a Glove

Titian, Nymph and Shepherd, Allegory of Prudence, Jacopa Strada, St. Jerome, Slaying of Marysas

Titian, Rape of Europa

Turner, J. M. W, The Fighting Temeraire

Uccello, Battle of San Romano

van der Weyden, St. Luke Drawing the Virgin

van Eyck, Arnolfini Portrait

van Eyck, Adoration of the Lamb

van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece

van Gogh, The Potato Eaters

van GoghMemory of Garden at Etten; Tatched Cottages; White House

van Gogh,  Portrait of Madam Trabuc; Morning: Going Out

van Gogh, Starry Night

van Gogh, Three Pairs of Shoes

Vincent van Gogh paintings up to 1889

Vincent van Gogh paintings, 1888-1890

Vigee-LeBrun, Marie Antoinette and Her Children, Self Portrait, Self-Portrait with Julie

Velazquez, Juan de Pareja

Velazquez, Pope Innocent X

Velazquez, Overview of Famous Paintings

Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring

Vermeer, Saint Praxedis

Vermeer, The Kitchen Maid

Vermeer, The Allegory of Painting

VermeerGirl with the Red Hat

Vigee-LeBrun, Marie Antoinette and Her ChildrenSelf PortraitSelf-Portrait with Julie

Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans

Warhol, Marilyn Diptych and Gold Marilyn 

Warhol, Mao 

Whistler, Whistler's Mother

Anders Zorn

Famous Paintings by Art Museums

Learn about famous paintings to see in these art museums:

Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY). One of those intimate, small art museums with a stellar collectionExplore famous paintings at the Albright-Knox. 

Art Institute of Chicago: Plan to see these famous paintings at the Art Institute -- and download an ebook about them.

Louvre Museum, (Paris): one of the largest art museums in the world! Know which Louvre paintings not to miss in this sortable ebook. 

Mauritshuis Museum: explore works by renowned Dutch painters

Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City): download the ebook, Famous-Paintings-Metropolitan-Museum, to learn its must-see masterpieces. Or read the blog post, "Famous Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum". 

National Gallery (London): with 2300 famous paintings alone in its European painting section, discover highlights to see!  Art Paintings to See at the National Gallery.

Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam): 10 famous paintings not to miss

Washington, D.C. Art Museums: Explore forty famous paintings in Washington, DC in this article.

Whitney Museum of American Art.  Don't miss these 10 famous paintings at the Whitney.

Most Popular Posts

Michelangelo PaintingsThe Torment of Saint Anthony; The Manchester Madonna;Holy Family (Doni Tondo); and Entombment

Cave Paintings: explore this prehistoric art in Spain and France.

Picasso's Las Meninas: 58 Picasso paintings inspired by Velazquez's Las Meninas

Ghent Altarpiece: the van Eyck masterpiece, one of the most famous artworks ever made. 

10 Famous Paintings at the Prado. Don't miss a one of these.

Survey of Renaissance Paintings: want to know what Renaissance paintings were all about? Start with 20 of its most famous painters in this sweeping survey! 

Discover more of readers' favorite art history blog posts. 

Female Artists

While we long for the time when artists are artists and genderless, that time isn't yet here.

These are a few of the female artists who've left lasting legacies in the history of painting:

Sofonisba AnguissolaThree Sisters Playing ChessPhillip II of Spain

Rosa Bonheur.  Plowing in the Nivernais.  Horse Fair.

Lavinia Fontana. Portrait of a Noblewoman.

Helen Frankenthaler. Color Field Painting and Mountains and Sea. 

Artemisia Gentileschi.  Judith Beheading Holofernes.  Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting.

Frida Kahlo.  Frida and Diego Rivera.  The Two Fridas.  The Love Embrace of the Universe. 

Angelica Kauffmann.  Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting.  David Garrick.

Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun.  Self-Portrait; Marie Antoinette and Her Children; Self-Portrait with Julie

Judith Leyster.  Self-Portrait.  The Proposition. 

Paula Modersohn-Becker. Self-Portrait with an Amber Necklace. Still Life with Goldfish. 

Berthe Morisot.  Refuge in Normandy.  The Cradle. 

Georgia O'Keeffe. Jack in the Pulpit Series. 

Survey of Female Artists

Art History Beyond Europe

A few forays into art outside Europe:

African Art and Bocio

African Mask of Idia

Coatlique 

Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Great Wave

The Terracotta Warriors