Connect with us – Art History Stories

Do You “Pronkstill”Even? Social Media Of The Dutch Golden Age

Jan Davidsz. De Heem, A Richly Laid Table with Parrots, ca. 1655, detail, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Vienna


Do You “Pronkstill”Even? Social Media Of The Dutch Golden Age

Carefully arranged plates of food, surrounded by carefully planned out backgrounds; images with hidden meanings; a snap shot of wealth…what may sound like an average display of life through our modern-day social media accounts is actually a well-curated still-life from the 17th century Dutch Golden Age, known as a pronkstilleven (The term refers to a very ornate and ostentatious still life painting, developed in the mid-17th century Dutch Republic).

These still-life paintings are an early form of social documentation in which the audience is invited to look past the surface and see what Paul Claudel has labeled as “a coming apart” …a look into how there is always a different narrative than what we may be able to see in front of us.

Still-life Paintings and the Dutch Golden Age

Dutch still-life paintings are a genre which grew out of a prospering and an ever-fluctuating trade industry and economy. This ca. 1655 pronkstilleven by Jan Davidsz. De Heem, aptly titled A Richly Laid Table with Parrots, depicts multiple items traded during the Dutch Golden Age. Besides a richly decorated table, the artist treats the viewer to a beautiful landscape which sits just behind dark drapes. Not only do the objects on and off the table contain hidden meanings, they represent the world outside the framework of the painting itself…the parts of the world where these items came from originally. Likewise, the following two paintings shown below, all credited to de Heem, exhibit a sense of wealthiness experienced by the Dutch during this time.

Social Media of the Dutch Golden Age

Jan Davidsz. De Heem, A Richly Laid Table with Parrots, ca. 1655,  Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Vienna.


Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Still Life with a Glass and Oysters, ca. 1640, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Jan Davidsz. de Heem, A Banqueting Scene, ca. 1640-41, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

So how does all of this apply to modern-day social media?  

Well, besides the change from oil paintings to photography, are we not just expressing our material life in the same way? Type #stilllife into the Instagram search bar, and you will find thousands of images like this. Images meant to showcase a positive aspect of our lives. These meticulously curated images on our social media accounts show the world what is important to us. But what about what lies just outside the frame? Is that not more so the truth the world knows about but chooses to ignore in place of a happy, clean, or neatly cultivated aesthetic?

Social Media of the Dutch Golden Age

Mimi Thorisson, Cherry Kouglof, Source: Manger


Social Media of the Dutch Golden Age

Mimi Thorisson, Oysters, Source: Manger

Find out more:

For more information regarding the hidden meanings in still life paintings, visit “A Small Guide to Still Life Symbols Parts 1 &2.” 

If you are further interested in the Dutch Golden Age, give these texts a go!

Art historian (art lover, artist), general nomad, writer, Mom, and a pilot wife. When she’s not spending all of her free time reading and writing YA novels, she can be found at her favorite coffee shop drinking coffee in all its various forms…right now, that’s an iced vanilla latte half sweet with almond milk…in case you were wondering. Favorite art style is impressionism. Favorite theme is the Annunciation.

Check out my site here:


More in Symbols

  • 20th century

    The Largest Mural on Earth


    Early Fall, for students around the world, means one thing: back to school, back to writing papers, and exam preparations. For students of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), it means back to Ciudad Universitaria, the beautiful complex of modernist buildings, planned by a group...

  • Art Travels

    Lakshmi in Art. The Goddess of Wealth


    Lakshmi is a prominent Hindu deity who is also revered by Buddhists and Jains. Her eminent position in the Hindu pantheon emanates not only from her role as the wife of Vishnu (the preserver of the Hindu trinity) but also in her own right as the goddess...

  • Art State of Mind

    Sixth Sense? Allegories of Senses in Painting


    How to show our sensual experiences visually? The human senses made out one of the most appealing subjects for European painters, especially that since the Middle Ages they had rather negative connotations, being considered as lustful and hence leading to sin. And as we all know,...

  • Elliot Tupac mural Elliot Tupac mural

    21st century

    The Art of Latin American Lettering


    Latin American lettering is a legacy of craft-based traditions with a strong design and vibrant colors enhanced by an aesthetic with a rich indigenous identity and history. Cartelismo Popular Craft in the USA and Europe are different than in Latin America. In northern countries, usually, craft techniques...

  • Prehistoric Sculpture Prehistoric Sculpture


    Sacred Signs – Prehistoric Sculpture


    It seems that forming figurative shapes out of natural materials has always been with us. As humans developed, a bigger, more sophisticated brain allowed for more processing power and higher functions such as language and creative expression. Prehistoric art covers a period from the Stone Age...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy