Still Life with Peacocks
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Rembrandt's Still Life with Peacocks is a narration of the artist's disillusionment with the excess and pompousness in the environment in his working environment.

In this sense, Still Life with Peacocks anticipates the great photographic insights of Dorothea Lange and Cindy Sherman three centuries later.

Like the filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, Rembrandt uses the character of a young girl in Still Life with Peacocks to represent a critique of a society designed for the ease and convenience of adult men. At the approximate time he composed the painting, Rembrandt also "received an order to paint the militia portrait for the great hall of the Kloveniersdoelen," a portrait of a civic guard carrying muskets. The decoration of the hall was the most prestigious commission of the decade." 

Made in the midst of creating work dedicated to the celebration of his militaristic patrons, Rembrandt's Still Life with Peacocks represents a different perspective: the response of a child to a society which generates both capital and meaning from an industry of endless and compounding warfare, waged by men, but coloring the lives of all living beings. In this sense, the celebration of warfare is a celebration of the vanity of men, like the bright plumage of the peacock, and, as Nicola Suthor writes, "the symbolic significance of vanity attributed to the peacock as its emblematic image is translated [by Rembrandt] into the fragility of the bird's rendering, the transparency and ephemeral appearance of the plumage becoming the point of fascination for the beholder."

I do not, by these remarks, disregard in any way the significance and value of the service rendered by men and women of the military. On the contrary, both my mother and father were raised by veterans of WWII, and we witnessed the heavy psychological, physical, and spiritual toll of war on their fathers. The lives of veterans make the possibility of peace all the more relevant.



  1. Haak, B. Rembrandt; His Life, His Work, His Time. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1969.
  2. Hunter-Stiebel, Penelope. Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art: Treasures from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Dayton, OH: Dayton Art Institute, 2006.
  3. Rifa-Valls, Montserrat. "Postwar princesses, young apprentices, and a little fish-girl: Reading subjectivities in Hayao Miyazaki's tales of fantasy." Visual Arts Research 37, no. 2 (2011): 88-100.
  4. Suthor, Nicola. Rembrandt's Roughness. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018.
  5. Westermann, Mariët. Rembrandt. Phaidon Press, 2000.
  6. van de Wetering, Ernst. A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings IV: Self-Portraits. New York: Springer Science & Business Media, 2005.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Still Life with Peacocks

Still Life with Peacocks is a c.1639 painting by Rembrandt, now in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Still Life with Peacocks.