Still Life

I've been re-reading Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting by Norman Bryson. I'm drawn to the idea of still life as a way of forcing the viewer to address the humble and the ordinary and I keep coming back to one section

Rhopography (from rhopos, trivial objects, small wares, trifles) is the depiction of those things which lack importance, the unassuming material base of life that 'importance' constantly overlooks. . . . Still life takes on the exploration of what 'importance' tramples underfoot.  It attends to the world ignored by the human impulse to create greatness. its assault on the prestige of the human subject is therefore conducted at a very deep level.  The human figure, with all its fascination is expelled.  Narrative - the drama of greatness - is banished.  And what is looked at overturns the standpoint on which human importance is established.  Still life is unimpressed by the categories of achievement, grandeur  or the unique.  The human subject that it proposes and assumes is anonymous and creatural, cut off from splendour and from singularity.  All men must eat, even the great; there is a levelling of humanity, a humbling of aspiration before and irreducible fact of life, hunger. [my highlights]

Makes an apparently simple image of fruit and vegetables sat in a pantry suddenly seem  a lot more radical

Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber, 1602

Fra Juan Sánchez Cotán

Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber, 1602

San Diego Museum of Art