A still life is a depiction of an arrangement of diverse inanimate objects, including plants, artifacts, and items of food (especially fruit and game). The arrangement is often apparently random and is usually within a domestic setting.

Still lifes are primarily associated with oil painting, but are also made in other media, including mosaic, watercolor, and photography. Still life offers artists the opportunity to exhibit their skills in creating complex compositions and in depicting a variety of textures.

One theme often portrayed in still-life paintings is vanitas, which is concerned with the fragility of man and his world of desires and pleasures in the face of the inevitability and finality of death. It refers to the vanity of earthly possessions, to fleeting time, and to decay.


Still Life
A type of art whose subject is a group of natural objects (such as game, flowers, vegetables, or fruits) and man-made objects (such as containers) usually placed on a tabletop with a tablecloth.

subject—focus or theme

natural—not made by humans


game—dead birds and animals used for food

man-made—made by humans

containers—objects, such as baskets, bottles, and dishes, that hold something

tabletop—the top of a table

tablecloth—a cloth used to cover a tabletop