The Fitzwilliam Beauty

Whilst visiting the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, I was captivated by a painting by Adriaen Coorte called ‘A bundle of asparagus’ located on the balcony in the room of British Art 16th – 18th centuries.

Having viewed many different artists still life paintings and trying one myself, I have found that a huge amount of skill is involved in making it effective. Getting the light and tones correct is a challenge and Coorte should be commended for the contrast he created between the dark background and the bright white and green asparagus. The black background gave a strong support for the subject matter, this makes the piece stand out. Additionally, the perspective line painted in bright white colours gives the piece another dimension which enables a more 3D appearance. Its bright colour makes the painting eye-catching.

Still life was meant to provide a record for the future. In many of Coorte’s paintings, asparagus plays an important part. Asparagus was a luxury item in the 17th century. As Kurt Anderson said ‘When I paint a still life, I want it to be anything but still. I want it to shimmer with light. I want it to rustle with movement.’ Adriaen Coorte did just this. I would really recommend visiting the Fitzwilliam Museum, its beautiful paintings and sculptures are an inspiration.

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