Still Life with the Four Elements

Creation date
oil on panel
19-1/8 x 25-3/8 in.
Credit line
James E. Roberts Fund and Gift of Dr. and Mrs. G. H. A. Clowes
Accession number
Currently On View

The belief that all matter consists of four elements (fire, earth, air, water) is of classical origin.  In the 17th century it was not uncommon to symbolize the elements by making reference to the natural world.  In this painting, fire is symbolized by the brazier, earth by the flowers and fruit, air by the birds in the window, and water by the plate of oysters.

Antonini collection, Paris.{1}Private collection, Paris.{2} (Newhouse Galleries, New York);{3} purchased in 1954 for the Art Association of Indianapolis, John Herron Art Institute (55.8).

{1}Possibly Annibale Antonini [1702-1753].
{2}According to Newhouse Galleries dossier in IMA historical file (55.8).
{3}Newhouse Galleries label, No. 15209.
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