MIGNON, Abraham
(b. 1640, Frankfurt, d. 1679, Wetzlar)

Still-Life

after 1672
Oil on canvas, 92 x 72,7 cm
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne

Like van Schrieck and Ruysch, Abraham Mignon also composed dioramic situations in the form of forest still-lifes. Set against a dark background without clear spatial delimitations, we can see pedestals and stone plinths building up from the ground. These are covered with an abundance of fruit and vegetables, with delicate stalks of grain winding themselves around pumpkins and corn cobs with blue and yellow kernels. Together with peaches, plums and grapes they combine to form an arrangement which has an affinity to de Heem's religious fruit still-lifes.

This painting, too, includes an encoded Christian message. Because of its many seeds and its rapid growth, the pumpkin had been interpreted as a symbol of growing Christian faith since the early Middle Ages. Similar ideas were probably associated - as far as can be determined - with corn cobs and its many kernels, though corn is not mentioned in the Bible. Grapes and corns are well-known references to the Eucharist again. In Mignon's painting the artist arranged the fruit in such a way that it is framed vertically by branches growing upwards from the ground. These branches, which are probably intended to indicate an oak tree, are completely covered with moss and seem almost dried up, though some shoots can be identified which indicate the tree's ability to survive.