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Still Life with Empty Glasses, c.1640

Sebastian Stoskopff
German, 1597-1657
Oil on canvas
34 x 43-1/4 in. (86.4 x 109.9 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on View

Sebastian Stoskopff employed a limited palette of subdued tones of brown and gray to depict this corner of a kitchen where glasses are washed and stored after a meal. The artist’s technique is economic and precise: thin glazes of white paint suggest the transparency of glass and an underdrawing indicates the rims of the glasses in the basket. The composition, however—stacked gold-rimmed silver cups, light-reflecting brass and copper tubs, a wooden implement balancing precariously at the table’s edge and delicate, transparent glassware—is a tour de force of illusionism. Though certain motifs in this still life undoubtedly carry symbolic meaning (the broken glass may refer to the fragility of life, for instance), overall it demonstrates the artist’s delight in the beauty of materials that convey varied textures and translucency.

Though the artist’s early training took place in Germany, he was living in Paris by 1621 where he associated with the painters who lived in the Saint-Germain-de-Pres area where many Protestants and a large concentration of Dutch and Flemish painters also resided.

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