Still Life Painting: From Antiquity to the Twentieth Century  

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"A still life painting was originally designated in Greek by the term "rhopography" (i.e. depiction of insignificant objects, of odds and ends); then, forcing the pejorative nuance a little, it was mockingly baptized '"rhyparography" (i.e. painting of the sordid) […] Now too the term "megalography" (i.e. large-scale painting) was coined in contradistinction to rhopography. But it was not so much a matter of size as of the nature of the subject, the latter category corresponding to our minor genre as contrasted with the grand manner."--Still Life Painting: From Antiquity to the Twentieth Century (1952:27), Charles Sterling


French text of the above:

"être, ainsi, à l'origine de ce malicieux jeu de mots par lequel on a fini par nommer ce genre particulier de peinture représentant des vivres prêts à la dégustation, ou déjà consommés : rhyparographie, c'est-à-dire, littéralement, peinture de détritus, au lieu de rhopographie, appellation plus correcte qui signifie : peinture de menus objets. Mais, bien que ces œuvres fussent considérées comme mineures, comme des ouvrages « minoris picturae », l'engouement que le public manifestait"

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

La nature morte de l'antiquité à nos jours (1952) is a work by Charles Sterling on the history of still life painting.

It was translated in English as Still Life Painting: From Antiquity to the Twentieth Century (1981).





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