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Thoughts on Canvas: Still Life, Floris Claesz Van Dyck (1660)

By Gabi Kennedy


The painting contains foods native to Van Dyck's home country of Holland, such as apples, grapes, bread, cheese, and nuts, as well as imported foods and items, like silk cloth from Damascus, wine from France or Spain, apricots from the Mediterranean, and knives from Africa. The combination of all these elements demonstrates Holland's global influence and its interest in neighbouring cultures, as well as its developing global trade deals. The country is going through a renaissance economically and politically; their culture is growing and evolving with the influences of the cultures surrounding them. This all comes together in the symbol of food. There could also be criticism on intellectual and academic renaissances, as the peel of the apple falling off the table could represent how they believed Galileo was wrong in saying the earth was round. The fresh, brightly coloured fruit contrasted with the dark background could symbolize new life emerging from darker times. A true renaissance for Holland and many other European countries and cultures is present, suggesting the death of an old mindset on a path to cultural diversity and change, as well as new life for Holland as a leader in global trade.


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