3/29/18Still life painting in the 17th and 18th Century was often done to demonstrate technical skill. The genre on it's own has a curious and rich history that didn't always receive acknowledgement or public support. When you add in being a female painter at that time in history, it's quite remarkable that women persevered and actually succeeded as artists. Anne Vallayer-Coster was a French painter who became quite prolific as a still-life painter. Still life painting, although low on the ranks in terms of importance in academia, was an acceptable genre for women. Drawing or painting from a nude model was morally inappropriate for women and concurrently a practice that was deemed necessary for higher level painting in general. None the less Anna had achieved early recognition for her fine skill. At 26 she was admitted to the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. Her paintings of flowers drew attention from collectors including Marie Antoinette. Vallayer-Coster worked primarily in oils and was able to achieve a level of texture and detail that was remarkable. The paintings have a luminous quality that was achieved through her brushwork and color choices. She was a skilled illusionist and I see some similarities between her work, primarily in terms of composition, with those of Chardin. Her work tends to include more lavish subjects than Chardin. Things like crystal, silver and exotic food stuffs (ie. lobster) as well as flowers are found throughout her paintings. These are items that signified affluence and abundance among other references. The fall of the French monarchy had an impact on her career. In 1817 she exhibited "Still Life with Lobster" which she later donated to King Louis XVIII. There's quite a bit of information on Anne if your curious to learn more.