Eye Candy for Today: Willem Kalf’s Still Life with Ewer

Still Life with Ewer, Vessels and Pomegranate, Willem Kalf
Still Life with Ewer, Vessels and Pomegranate, Willem Kalf

Link is to the original in the Getty Museum, which has both zoomable and downloadable versions. There is also a zoomable version on Google Art Project, and a downloadable version of that file on Wikimedia Commons.

I have not had the pleasure of seeing the original in person, but my instincts tell me that neither of the high-resolution online images are likely to be true in color and value.

The Getty version seems overly dark, which is often the case in images museums post of works in their collections, perhaps in a misguided attempt to discourage image reuse. The Google Art Project image, on the other hand, seems artificially much too bright and saturated.

I’ve taken the liberty of making adjustments to a copy of the Getty’s image to bring it to a best-guess state, based on the Willem Kalf paintings I have seen in person. I may or may not be close to the original of this work.

There is something in Kalf’s softly painterly rendering of light playing across the texture of the ewer, the delicate transparency of the wineglass and the subtle reflections in the silver tankard that put me in mind of the still life elements in Vermeer’s exquisite interiors.