Breakfast Still Life, 1653
Pieter Claesz (Dutch, 1597/98–1660)
Oil on panel
Gift of Mrs. Berry V. Stoll 1975.31

How Was This Made?
Claesz. was a master at rendering textures and light effects. By using subdued colors such as grays and browns for his tabletop arrangements, he intentionally directs the viewer’s attention to the subtle reflection of light as it plays over the various surfaces. Look at the objects that he has chosen to depict. The lemons and the Chinese blue-and-white dish (both of which had to be imported) and the large ham indicate a certain level of economic prosperity. Claesz. lived and worked in Haarlem, a city noted for its many breweries. The glass beaker filled with frothy beer is easily associated with one of Haarlem’s leading sources of income. What do you think is the message created by this painting? If this was painted today, what items would need to be included to convey a similar message?