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Off-Campus: Set the Table

Pieter Claesz (Dutch, 1597-1660), Banquet Still-Life with Ewer and Bread , Oil on panel, Gift of Mrs. Lloyd Williams in memory of her father, Daniel Cotter. 1940.1.5

In this weekly feature, we will share our ideas for what you can do “off-campus” while the museum is closed. This week’s entry comes from Nicole M. Roylance, Coordinator of Public Education and Information.

Every Monday and Thursday there is a farmers’ market held on the Vassar campus. Recently, the vendors have begun to bring out the autumn harvest: apples, squash and cider donuts (do they count?). The gatherer in me loves the site of the assembled produce I bring home- either in its unaltered raw state or after it has been chopped, roasted, or baked into new culinary creations.

Artists have understood the visual delight of a table laden with food for centuries (they also understood the opportunity to showcase their deft skill with a paintbrush and demonstrate their patron’s wealth). If you have eaten all of your apples (or cider donuts), you can still create your own delicious composition on the National Gallery of Art website. Their still-life composer allows you to assemble your own table-top scene.

The National Gallery Still-Life composer allows you to create your own feast for the eyes.

The Still-Life composer allows you to drag and click together fruits, vases, and other objects on your choice of table and background. The added fun is that the objects you are choosing from are taken from the NGA permanent collection. These are not any apples. The apples are chosen from paintings by Jean Siméon Chardin, Paul Cézanne, and others. You can also alter the table angle, the light source, and the brushstroke of the entire scene. So before you head to your local farmers’ market or while you are waiting for your dinner to cook, make your own inspiring still-life.

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