From Food to Flora: The Timeless Allure of Still Life Objects in Art

Artists put a lot of thought into picking out the right things to include in their still life paintings. Their selections serve as the artwork's primary focus points and inform its theme. Religious, social,  allegorical, cultural, moral,  personal, and spiritual significance are all borne by the items shown within a still life painting.

Still life items are chosen by artists for a number of reasons, including the artist's desire to convey meaning via symbolism or the objects' symbolic or personal significance. Artists often choose materials solely for their aesthetic qualities.

Sometimes the things are attractive on their own, but more frequently it is up to the artist to make them interesting via compositional skill or a strong visual aesthetic.

What kinds of still life objects do artists often portray in their works?

Still life artworks often include everyday items, both natural and man-made. While any inanimate object might theoretically serve as the subject of a still life, specific items have consistently been shown in such works. The things in question usually represent something important to the owner. This category includes things like:

painting of fruit in a bowl

The painting of a bowl of fruit is a classic example of a still life composition. The artist has carefully selected and arranged the fruits in the bowl, creating a harmonious and visually appealing composition.
The bright colors and round shapes of the fruit contrast with the smooth curves of the bowl, creating a dynamic interplay of form and texture. The fruit in the bowl symbolizes abundance, nourishment, and the cyclical nature of life. The painting invites the viewer to appreciate the simple beauty of everyday objects and to contemplate the fleeting nature of life.
The precise and detailed brushwork of the artist highlights the beauty and texture of each piece of fruit, making the painting a testament to the artist's skill and appreciation for the natural world.
There is a common theme in still life artworks using processed or man-made foods. Still life paintings with processed foods have a more contemporary feel. Its significance might range from lighthearted and humorous to a scathing remark on modern society's fixation on materialism and poor lifestyle choices.


Artists that specialize in still life paintings often use flowers as a staple theme. Still life paintings often include flowers, and the significance of those blooms may vary greatly from one species to the next. See our floral wall art for samples.

Also, you should think about if the bloom is fresh or wilted. In general, flowers may represent both purity and transience, serving as a somber reminder of the brevity of life and the transience of earthly delights.

Flowers are a symbol of the four seasons and of nature. In a still life, flowers may symbolize a fascination with nature and the scientific method. Flowers were often painted for their aesthetic value, but they were also employed in religious contexts. For example, the rose symbolized love, the lily represented innocence, and the sunflower represented devotion.

Fruit & Flowers by Severen Roesen

Roesen's mastery of his medium is on display in this massive still life. The painting's creation date is unknown, however it most likely took place in New York between 1850 and 1855. Porcelain painters are renowned for their ability to create works that are both visually stunning and technically impressive. The ostentation typical of most Victorian art and architecture is shown well in this artwork.

Flora and Fauna

Florals and other flora, such as flowers, plants, and leaves, are commonly depicted in still life botanical art. They serve as symbols of growth, renewal, and the beauty of nature. Flowers, in particular, have been used to convey various meanings, such as love, passion, and mourning. The delicate petals and intricate details of flowers require a high degree of technical skill to render accurately, making still life paintings of florals a testament to the artist's mastery of the medium.

Other Still Life Objects

Feathers, seashells, rocks, and stones are also frequently depicted in still life paintings. They symbolize the beauty and mystery of the natural world and evoke a sense of the timelessness and permanence of the earth. These objects often have a smooth, organic texture that provides contrast with other elements in the composition, such as the rough texture of a stone or the delicate curves of a feather.

Skulls and bones serve as memento mori, reminders of mortality and the transience of life. They can evoke a sense of foreboding and death, but they can also symbolize the cycle of life and the ultimate unity of all living things. The artist's representation of skulls and bones in a still life painting demonstrates their mastery of both anatomy and symbolism, as they must accurately render the complex structure of the bones while also conveying their intended meaning.