My Favorite Painting

Willem Kalf: "Still Life with Lobster, Drinking Horn and Glasses" Oil on canvas, 34 x 40 inches, 1653
Willem Kalf: “Still Life with Lobster, Drinking Horn and Glasses”
Oil on canvas, 34 x 40 inches, 1653

I recently had dinner with a friend and we got to talking about still life painting in general and what I find so fascinating about it.

He also asked if I had a favorite still life painting, and I certainly do.

This is “Still Life with Lobster, Drinking Horn and Glasses” by Willem Kalf, and it was painted in Holland around 1650.

Kalf is probably not a household name – I’ve even had conversations with other artists who did not know of him.

He worked in Paris and Holland during the 17th century, and eventually shifted his career to become and art and antiques dealer.

He’s a little like Vermeer, in that he produced a small number of paintings, but they are absolutely awe-inspiring – real pinnacles of the art of painting.

Picking a favorite is a subjective thing – a gut reaction, really. There are many other paintings I love, but this is the one I would take with me to the proverbial desert island.

I feel like it has within it everything I need to know to become a better painter – secrets to be unlocked if I study it long and hard enough.

I came across it not long after I started to paint – more than 20 years ago, and it electrified me about the possibilities of this kind of painting.

I’ve spent time with it now and then ever since. About 6 months ago I spent an afternoon studying it, trying to open my eyes and mind to what else it had to teach me.

I saw things I hadn’t noticed before, and felt like I understood it in a richer way. And, hopefully that will make me just a little bit better of a painter.

I finish between 1 and 4 paintings every month, and show them to my subscribers first.  

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