Diego Velazquez – Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, c1618, National Gallery, London.
This composition has a marked foreground and background. Ones eyes alight on the still life at the side of Mary and Martha in which the shiny fish skin , the eggs and the garlic convey a sense of immediacy. This contrasts with the sober mood of the painting.
Beuckelaer – A fruit and vegetable market and the flight into Egypt in the background. 1569. National Gallery, London.
The composition is again divided into an ‘earthly’ foreground and a religious background but the mood is one of abundance and joy in contrast to the solemnity of the Velasquez. This is another precursor to the Still Life with the its array of fruit and vegetables . Painted at a time of economic recession the abundance of food is not painted directly from life.
Reference: Langmuir, Erika,(1994) The National Gallery Companion Guide, National Gallery Publications, London.