Segments in this Video

Still Life Introduction (01:50)


Today, we are bombarded with advertising imagery. For centuries, still lives have compelled us to reconsider the natural and material world.

Appreciating Ordinary Objects (00:52)

Most things have an aesthetic appeal. Still lives challenge us to consider our values.

Defining Still Life (01:32)

Experts discuss how artists express values and use censorship in their depiction of simple objects.

"Basket of Fruit" (04:42)

Experts analyze Caravaggio's 1596 work in terms of realism and religious symbolism. It is the first major still life in Western art.

Ancient Still Life Origins (01:57)

Learn how xenia paintings were used in the Roman Empire. The genre disappeared with its fall.

Medieval European Art (01:42)

During the Middle Ages, painting was confined to religious content. Secular still lives had no place in Christian society.

"The Annunciation" (01:54)

The Church forbade non-religious painting in medieval art. Learn the symbolism behind a lily vase in Duccio's work.

"The Four Elements" Series (01:29)

Christian ideology dominated art until the 16th century. Learn how Joachim Beuckelaer incorporated still life elements into his religious paintings.

Still Life Revival (02:12)

Caravaggio's "Basket of Fruit" marks a shift toward secular art, but he went on to paint Biblical scenes.

Northern European Still Lives (01:46)

Cardinal Borromeo's Ambrosian Collection contains secular as well as religious works. Learn how Dutch artists exported Italian painting styles.

Dutch Golden Age (01:43)

The Protestant Reformation transformed visual culture in the 17th century; a new wealthy merchant class commissioned secular art.

Mass Art Market (02:07)

17th century Dutch consumers used paintings to display their wealth. Learn how still lives represented global trade.

Vanitas Paintings (02:09)

Calvinist merchants wanted to celebrate their wealth but respect Protestantism. Still life artists used death symbolism to represent the transience of life.

Spanish Still Lives (02:20)

Learn how Juan Sanchez Cotan's "larder" pieces symbolize monastic life.

French Artistic Hierarchy (02:09)

French Academy students were trained to paint human figures in the 18th century; still lives weren't considered high art.

Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin (03:08)

Learn why the 18th century French artist's still lives were revolutionary during the Rococo and neoclassical periods.

Paul Cezanne (02:24)

Learn how the 19th century painter challenged the Paris art establishment and rejected the realist perspective.

Impressionist Perspective (04:10)

Cezanne's studio contains original objects used in his still lives. Learn how his technique demonstrates his artistic goals.

Expressionist Still Lives (02:03)

Cezanne pioneered artistic interpretation of perspective. Learn how painters such as Van Gogh reacted to photography.

Cubist Still Lives (01:45)

Learn how the modern art movement began as a reaction to photography. Cubism allowed the exploration of an object from multiple angles.

20th Century Still Lives (01:39)

Learn how advertising represents our relationship to material objects in the Machine Age.

21st Century Still Lives (04:15)

Ori Gersht explores the relationship between photography and painting, through slow motion film. Mat Collishaw photographs prisoners' last meals in a vanitas Painting style.

Depth in Materialism (01:25)

Still lives ask us to stop and look closely at a moment frozen in time.

Credits: Apples, Pears, and Paint: How to Make a Still Life Painting (00:54)

Credits: Apples, Pears, and Paint: How to Make a Still Life Painting

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Apples, Pears, and Paint: How to Make a Still Life Painting

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $300.00
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $450.00
3-Year Streaming Price: $300.00



This richly detailed film journeys through the epic history of still life painting, featuring a range of delights from the earliest existing mural paintings discovered at Pompeii to the cubist masterpieces of Picasso. Awash with rich imagery of fruit and flowers as well as humble domestic objects, this lively take on the story of still life encompasses the work of some of the genre’s greatest artists, from Caravaggio to Cezanne. Still Life is also brought up to date by contemporary artists. Israeli born Ori Gersht’s super slow motion films presents the medium in a way it has never been seen before. With contributions from historians and art experts, this colorful program opens up the huge social histories that lie behind the paintings and the fascinating lives of the people who made them. A BBC Production.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL60407

ISBN: 978-1-60057-451-1

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.