Julie Parker Art

Leigh Art Trail 2019

The ‘Stilleven’ series


For this year’s art trail collection I’ve taken a step back to the Dutch golden age of still life painting. The 17th century was an age of a great many ‘upwardly mobile’ wealthy ‘Handelaar’ keen to boast of their good taste and influence. This interest in buying still life (Stilleven) opened up a new marketplace, and it was the beginning of the first art economy in the modern sense.

This wealthy merchant class often chose a painting that included an item of their trade, with their wealth and influence suggested using exotic and expensive items. However a modicum of humility was to be included with the bragging, a moral and cautionary tale woven around the valuable and wonderous things.

Many of the components of the paintings had hidden meanings. These “Vanitas” elements reminded the viewer of the emptiness of material pursuits and the futility of earthly ambitions.  Here’s a few of those hidden messages;


Shellfish: especially oysters symbolize wealth, gluttony and temptation while drawing attention to the transience of wealth.

Bee: signifies helplessness against the course of destiny and encourages industriousness.

Glass, Gold or Silver objects: luxury items that depicted wealth and power. A tipped over or empty glass encourages moderation and reminds of the transience of earthly riches.

Nautilus Shell: The nautilus shell serves as a more palatable replacement of the human skull, acting as a reminder of the inevitability of death, or memento mori while keeping the grim image of a skull out of the picture.

Butterfly: The butterfly represents the soul, transformation and resurrection.

Pomegranate: Fertility, desire, abundance, but also resurrection and immortality, inspired by the mythological story of Persephone and Hades. Can also represent temptation & sin.

Peaches: Peaches stand as an image of the trade from warmer countries but also it was symbolically used to represent the heart, while a ripe peach was also used to imply good health.

Grapes: Symbolizing earthly pleasures, (Bacchus). Also represents fertility and symbolic of the dangers of debauchery.

Fruit: Mature fruits symbolize fertility, abundance, in the figurative sense of wealth and well-being, decaying fruit is a reminder of aging and our undeniable mortality and the inevitability of change, or decaying morals.

Beetles: - symbolic of healing, restoration and divinity, salvation & immortality

Ants: symbolic of hard work / or of destruction & defeat.

Fig: connotations with modesty and of sexuality

Porcelain: Oriental and porcelain decorative fruit bowls suggest the exotic spoils of geographic expansion.


In order to compose their paintings, the artists would have to make numerous studies of the different components when they could for reference, as many of the seasonal flora and perishable elements couldn’t possibly all be available all at the same time to paint. These studies would then be used to make up the desired composition.


We are fortunate today to have a huge range of goods available to us all year around, but as a nod to those wonderfully astute and talented men and women of this Golden age, I have made the ‘studies’ here that helped to build my ‘Stilleven’ in this collection of paintings.

Stilleven I

'Stilleven I'

Pastel on card, 58x36cm - SOLD

Blackberries, Blueberries & Japanese rice bowl Stu Figs & Japanese rice bowl study

'Blackberries, Blueberries & Japanese rice bowl'

Pastel on Card 17x17cm - SOLD

Figs & Japanese rice bowl study'

Pastel on card 17x17cm - SOLD

Tangerine Trio

'Tunnock's Teacake study'

Pastel on card, 17x17cm - SOLD

'Tangerine Trio'

Pastel on card - 18.5 x 43.5cm - SOLD

Viennese Whorl study

Vienesse Whorl study'

Pastel on card, 17x17cm

Stilleven II

'Stilleven II'

Pastel on card, 59x40cm

Tunnocks Trio French Fancy Study

'French Fancy study'

Pastel on card, 17x17cm

'Plum Trio study'

Pastel on card 17x17cm

Tunnock's Trio

Pastel on card, 18.5 x 43.5cm

Plum trio study Tangerine & Leaf Study

'Tangerine & Leaf study'

Pastel on card, 17x17cm - SOLD

Tunnocks Tea cake study Battenburg & Tea cup study

'Battenburg & Tea cup study'

Pastel on cards, 17x17cm