- Images in which the focus is a depiction of inanimate objects, as distinguished from art in which such objects are subsidiary elements in a composition.The term is generally applied to depictions of fruit, flowers, meat or dead game, vessels, eating utensils, and other objects, including skulls, candles, and hourglasses, typically arranged on a table. Such images were known since the time of ancient Greece and Rome; however, the subject was exploited by some 16th-century Italian painters, and was highly developed in 17th-century Dutch painting, where the qualities of form, color, texture, and composition were valued, and the images were intended to relay allegorical messages. The subject is generally seen in oil paintings, though it can also be found in mosaics, watercolors, prints, collages, and photographs. The term originally included paintings in which the focus was on living animals at rest, although such depictions would now be called "animal paintings."
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