DIJCK, Floris Claesz van
(b. 1575, Haarlem, d. 1651, Haarlem)

Laid Table with Cheeses and Fruit

c. 1615
Oil on panel, 82,2 x 111,2 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Early seventeenth-century still-life painters of food depict objects from a high point of view, to show as much as possible of the surface of a table, a vantage point similar to the one used by contemporary landscape, marine, and architectural painters. Symmetrically arranged platters of fruit, cheese, nuts, sweets, as well as glasses, jugs, and knives, are spread upon a flat tablecloth. The inanimate objects appear to pose in a steady light, showing how carefully every surface and texture has been scrutinized and how faithfully everything has been rendered. It is perhaps difficult for us to imagine the amazement and sheer delight seventeenth-century observers took in the skill of artists who could represent delicious food with such exactitude: our eyes have been numbed by countless colour images of food illustrated in cookery books and advertisements designed to sell packaged edibles.