Still Life with Game Birds, Fish, Fruit and Vegetables
Robert Robinson (English; British, active from 1674-died 1706)
Isaac Beckett (English British, Circa 1653 - circa 1715/1719)
DimensionsSheet : 10 1/4 x 8 1/8 in. (26.04 x 20.64 cm)
Plate : 9 7/8 x 7 3/4 in. (25.08 x 19.68 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection
LabelStill life images featuring carefully composed arrangements of plants, animals, foods, and objects first emerged as a distinct subject in European art during the late 16th century. The images were often meant to be understood allegorically as celebrations of nature’s abundance and the divine blessings provided by God to humankind. The arrangement of birds, fish, fruit, and vegetables in this mezzotint print by the late 17th-century English artist Robert Robinson was perhaps meant to evoke the passages in Genesis 1:26-28 in which God gives humankind “dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” For centuries, many Christians in Europe and America interpreted these passages to mean that the resources of the natural world exist for humans to consume and use for their own benefit. The “dominion mandate”, as the Genesis passages came to be known, fueled European and American exploration and colonization efforts during the 17th and 18th centuries, and spurred the rapacious consumption of natural resources that occurred during the industrial revolutions of the 19th and early 20th centuries.