Many Dutch still lifes can be read as more than just brilliant illusionistic representations of nature. Mignon’s fruit – once luscious and beautiful but now spoiled and inedible – is typical of these sorts of vanitas paintings. They were designed to recall Christian teachings on the brevity of life and the urgent need to focus on lasting spiritual matters rather than fleeting earthly pleasures, reminding the viewer that eating could easily lead to sin.
Abraham Mignon (1640 –79)
Utrecht, Netherlands, c.1670
Oil on panel
Dr D.M. McDonald Bequest, 1991 (PD.104-1992)