At Last, An Overdue Honor

Clara Peeters, “Still Life with Flowers, Gilt Goblet, Dried Fruits, Sweets, Biscuits, Wine and a Pewter Flagon,” 1611, oil on panel, 52 x 73 cm. (c) Museo del Prado 2016

There have been few women artists throughout history, and even fewer who earned the respect of their male peers. Several hundred years after her death, the Museo del Prado is proud to celebrate the legacy of Clara Peeters during this historical exhibition.

She was a pioneer in the field of still life painting and one of the few women painters active in Early Modern Europe. Although it has taken centuries for her life and career to be fully appreciated, “The Art of Clara Peeters” — now on view at the Museo del Prado — is evidence of changing tides.

Clara Peeters, “Still Life with Sparrow, Hawk, Fowl, Porcelain and Shells” 1611, oil on panel, 52 x 71 cm. (c) Museo del Prado 2016
Clara Peeters, “Still Life with Sparrow, Hawk, Fowl, Porcelain and Shells” 1611, oil on panel, 52 x 71 cm. (c) Museo del Prado 2016

Only about 40 paintings by Peeters survive today, 14 of which are included in the major exhibition in Spain. In addition to her inarguable talent, Peeters was among the first painters in modern Europe to specialize in still life. Significantly, the Prado museum has taken the exhibition as an opportunity not only to showcase Peeters, but to also comment on and investigate the status and situation of female artists during this time. Via the Prado’s webpage, “The paintings of Clara Peeters are elegant and precise. They are also enigmatic. What did a porcelain vessel of the type that we see in these still lifes mean to someone around 1610? And an artichoke or a sea shell? The goal of this exhibition is to answer these questions, and to highlight the achievements of this little known but extraordinary artist.”

“The Art of Clara Peeters” will remain on view through February 19. To learn more, visit the Museo del Prado.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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