Harry Berger, Jr.
Reflections on Seventeenth-Century Dutch Still-Life Painting
From the Publisher
"Caterpillage is a study of seventeenth-century Dutch still life painting. It develops an interpretive approach based on the author's previous studies of portraiture, and its goal is to offer its readers a new way to think and talk about the genre of still life.
The book begins with a critique of iconographic discourse and particularly of iconography's treatment of vanitas symbolism. It goes on to argue that this treatment tends to divert attention from still life's darker meanings and from the true character of its traffic with death. Interpretations of still life that focus on the vanity of human experience and the mutability of life minimize the impact made by the representation of such voracious pillagers of plant life as insects, snails, and caterpillars. The message sent by still life's preoccupation with these small-scale predators is not merely vanitas. It is rapacitas."
From Fordham Press