Louise Moillon

Louise Moillon, Baroque still life painting

Louise Moillon, Baroque still life painting

Louise Moillon was a French still life painter active in the 17th century. Though she lived in Paris, where still life painting had yet to become accepted as a respected genre, she painted in the Flemish Baroque style of still life that was becoming popular in the Netherlands.

Her work includedd elements of trompe l’oeil along with arrangements that sometimes feel stylized and artificial; that, combined with her superb feeling for the texture and color of fruits and leaves, often gives her paintings something of a magic realist quality.

I particularly admire her renderings of plums, in which the sheen of the skin and the dimensionality of the forms show her skill at its best.


7 Replies to “Louise Moillon”

  1. Baroque artist Louise Moillon was the premier still life artist of her time. Most of Louise Moillon’s signed paintings are dated between 1629 and 1637, while there is also a work of 1641 painted in collaboration with Pieter van Boekel (Pierre van Boucle) and Jacques Linard which was a large composition with fruits and flowers. Some of her later works date from 1674. The high esteem in which her work was held is demonstrated by the fact that Charles I of England had five fruit pieces by the artist. . . . The gap in her work is not fully understood, though a Calivinist husband is implicated.
    There’s more to the story!
    An influential formulation of 1667 by André Félibien, a historiographer, architect and theoretician of French classicism became the classic statement of the theory for the 18th century:
    He who produces perfect landscapes is above another who only produces fruit, flowers or seashells. He who paints living animals is more estimable than those who only represent dead things without movement, and as man is the most perfect work of God on the earth, it is also certain that he who becomes an imitator of God in representing human figures, is much more excellent than all the others … a painter who only does portraits still does not have the highest perfection of his art, and cannot expect the honour due to the most skilled. For that he must pass from representing a single figure to several together; history and myth must be depicted; great events must be represented as by historians, or like the poets, subjects that will please, and climbing still higher, he must have the skill to cover under the veil of myth the virtues of great men in allegories, and the mysteries they reveal”.

  2. I always have such a mixed reaction to works such as these. On the one hand, they are truly astounding in their verisimilitude, and since there was no photography then, the super-realistic nature of these is justified. But when I see a present-day example, although I am still amazed, and they may be truly beautiful, they sometimes leave me cold, and I want to say to the artist, Take a photo, or else be a painter and give me YOUR impression of the subject! (Or…maybe I’m just jealous.)

  3. Paintings are traditionally divided into five categories or ‘genres’. The establishment of these genres and their relative status in relation to one other, stems from the philosophy of arts promoted by the great European Academies of Fine Art, like the Royal Academy in London, and the influential French Academy of Fine Arts (Academie des Beaux-Arts).

    The five categories of fine art painting, listed in order of their official ranking or importance, are as follows:

    1. History Painting
    Religious, historical or allegorical work, with a moral message.
    2. Portrait Art
    Includes individual, group or self-portraits.
    3. Genre Painting
    Scenes of everyday life.
    4. Landscape Painting
    Paintings whose principal content is a scenic view.
    5. Still Life Painting
    An arrangement of domestic objects or everyday items.


  4. Why were they ranked?

    In Italy, where a great deal of art was commissioned by the Church for public display inside churches, large-scale paintings with a moral or uplifting message were considered the highest form of art. Whereas landscape and still lifes typically contained no humans and thus no moral message.

    Still life paintings are my favourites.

    “Still life.” What a lie. Life isn’t still. Death is.”
    ~ Jordan Weisman

    “..wer am meisten genießt, betet am meisten.” / (‘ who enjoys the most, prays the most)
    ~ Georg Büchner

  5. Her quality of visual sensitivity of the subjects is so admirable in spite of the hierarchy of art genre of the time.

    Thanks for the posting of another great artist I had never known.


  6. Incredible artworks! I hope that one day I will also be able to paint this way. I wonder how long did her take to finish one of these paintings.

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