Floris Gerritsz. van Schooten
(?) about 1585 – Haarlem after 1655
Still Life with Ham, Cheese, Butter and Buns
Oil on wood
49.1 x 77.5 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michal Hornstein, inv. 2014.68
Van Schooten belonged to the first generation of painters who lent credibility to the still life and helped establish it as an independent genre. Gradually eliminating figures from his paintings, he became famous for quiet scenes of food-laden tables. His works—depicting simple objects and emphasizing contrasts in somewhat stiff compositions—reflected a rather archaistic and austere style. Under the influence of Willem Claesz. Heda and, in particular, Pieter Claesz., they evolved toward a monochrome palette based on harmonies of browns and greys. In this painting, the depiction of foods and objects, as well as of shadows and reflections, helps enliven the whole of the composition. Exemplary of the elegant “breakfasts” typical of the wealthy Dutch middle class, this still life conceals a vanitas, if not a profound meditation on the meaning of wealth.