Technically if you want any dinner party to follow correct ettiquite, the cheese-board course should come before dessert, but like many people outside France I choose to serve it after my post about food that included some of the sweet stuff.
Philistine, I know, but I’m half Dutch and shouldn’t any meal (or in this case, arty blog post series) be ended with any food lovers dream: ….cheese?
My very last post in this current Rijksmuseum series is, Yes you guessed it, another favourite painting of mine, that has cheese s it’s main ingredient and subject title.
Since I know this painting from my Art History study days, it is not a new one to me, but it is the very first time I have seen it in the flesh, up close in all of it’s painted detail.
The Dutch Masters excelled with Still Life as their subject matter, they painted with the insight you get when the items painted are things you have grown up with, and who knows, maybe cheese was one of the everyday items around home that they practiced painting when they were young, raw artists, before finding their place and spreading their wings to wider fame? The cheese in the background was probably made with the same farmhouse process still used today, certainly it looks like any one of the aged cheeses available in my local cheese shop. The real genius of this painting is however, the painting as a “whole”, the background is no afterthought, in fact the attention paid to the damask tablecloth defies explanation when seen up close.
Painting white detail on an almost white tablecloth is hard enough, painting it as the cloth falls over the edge of the table or falls under the shadow of the place on which the grapes stand, blows my mind. Then there is the detail on the pale red section of the cloth, the pattern is fine, delicate and done with a hand so steady that three hundred years before the photography was invented, has almost become photographic. I’m not alone in these thoughts either, the information board reads:
“Still Life with Cheese“, Oil on panel circa 1615 by Floris Claesz van Dijck (1575-1651)
“Fruit, bread and cheese, grouped by type, are set on a table covered with costly damask tablecloths. The illusion of reality is astounding: the pewter plate extending over the edge of the table seems close enough to ouch. The Haarlem painter Floris van Dijck ranked among the pioneers of Dutch still-life painting.”