Still Life with Cakes and Pottery
Author: Josefa de Óbidos (?)
Origin: Portugal (?)
Material: Oil on Canvas
Dimensions (cm): 84,6 x 70,5
NInv. no.: PNA66698 / PNA568 / PD0715dep
A still life painting with sweets and fruits on a table with a cloth. A silver (or tin?) salver containing several sweets draws our attention. Next to the salver, there is a set of three mugs produced in the south Portugal potteries that seem ready to be used. There is a drinking mug to which is tied a brightly coloured ribbon. One may see several little flowers including one flower that has no petals.
The painting is attributed to Josefa de Óbidos (Josefa de Ayala Figueira) whose mother was Spanish and her father was Portuguese. When she was a little girl, she left her birthplace – Seville – and she came to Portugal with her parents to the Quinta da Capeleira, in Óbidos, where she still lived until her death in 1684. Josefa was always interested in painting and she revealed several painting skills, but specialized in still-life paintings. It is important to emphasize that Josefa was the only woman whose paintings were known and recognized during a time in which Art was completely dominated by men.
Her still-life paintings portray some objects such as flowers, fruit, vegetables or animals. Still-life paintings originated in the Netherlands during the second half of the 17th century to satisfy the tastes of a prominent middle class who wanted to be portrayed in historical and religious settings. Although it was considered (as in Landscape and Animal paintings) a less important subject for Art, Still-life paintings quickly became popular and recognizable all over Europe. Still-life paintings are, unquestionably, an imitation of reality; a particular moment is captured on canvas where it may be contemplated at leisure. The apogee of this Art form was in the second half of the 17th century and well into the 18th century. However, this Artistic Movement gradually fell out of favour in the 19th century.
In the subjects that the themes portray, it is important to mention the well-set table of food (indicating the owners’ wealth) and objects related to the table and the preparation, service and consumption of food; the fruits provided by the land and floral compositions.