Paulette Tavormina Natura Morta

Paulette Tavormina Lemons and Pomegranates

Lemons and Pomegranates

PTavormina Figs and Apricots

Figs and Apricots

PTavormina Jamon Iberico

Jamón Ibérico

PTavormina Quince and Jug

Quince and Jug

Paulette Tavormina Lemons and Prickly Pears

Lemons and Prickly Pears

Paulette Tavormina Apples and Peas

Apples and Peas

Paulette Tavormina Blackberries and Peaches

Blackberries and Peaches

Paulette Tavormina Blueberries and Apricots

Blueberries and Apricots

Paulette Tavormina Bread and Dragonfly IV

Bread and Dragonfly

Paulette Tavormina Cauliflower and Peaches

Cauliflower and Peaches

Paulette Tavormina Crabs and Lemon

Crabs and Lemon

Paulette Tavormina Cranberry Beans

Cranberry Beans

Paulette Tavormina Figs and Morning Glories

Figs and Morning Glories

Paulette Tavormina Figs


Paulette Tavormina Fish Bone

Fish Bone

Paulette Tavormina Flowers and Fish III

Flowers and Fish III

Paulette Tavormina Flowers and Fish IV

Flowers and Fish IV

Paulette Tavormina Fruit Basket

Fruit Basket

Paulette Tavormina Oysters


Paulette Tavormina Peaches and Morning Glories

Peaches and Morning Glories

Paulette Tavormina Persimmons


Paulette Tavormina Plums with Chinese Walnuts

Plums with Chinese Walnuts

Paulette Tavormina Roses and Figs

Roses and Figs

Paulette Tavormina Strawberries


Paulette Tavormina Watermelon and Radishes

Watermelon Radishes

Paulette Tavormina Wild Raspberries

Wild Raspberries

Paulette Tavormina Yellow Cherries and Crab Apples

Yellow Cherries and Crab Apples


I have long been drawn to the seventeenth century Old Master Still Life painters Giovanna Garzoni, Francesco de Zurbarán, and Adriaen Coorte. I am particularly fascinated by Zurbarán’s mysterious use of dramatic light, Garzoni’s masterful compositions and color palette, and Coorte’s unique placements of objects.

Seventeenth century Europe witnessed an explosion of interest in the natural world. Botanical encyclopedias from the period are records of the discoveries made on extensive explorations during this “Golden Age” of global trading. Still life painters incorporated shells, insects, exotic fruits, and flowers found abroad alongside Venetian glass and Chinese porcelain. Their vignettes served as a tribute to newly discovered corners of the world. Worldly in their composition, these paintings also speak to universal themes as relevant then as now: the fragility of life and love, fleeting beauty and tempus fugit, the swift passage of time.

Standing in front of these paintings at The Metropolitan Art Museum in New York or The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I am struck by their strong emotional resonance, their ability to transcend time and place. I imagine Coorte, Zurbarán, Garzoni, and their contemporaries as they gathered worldly treasures and guotidian objects to tell of newfound wealth, passion, and the inevitable passage of time. The essence of these paintings lingers with me as I gather my own flora, fauna, butterflies and treasured antiques to create the romantic vignettes within my photographs.

The Natura Morta images I have made in response to the Old Masters are intensely personal interpretations of timeless, universal stories. Years from now, I hope that the photographs I create will affect someone as deeply as the Old Masters’ paintings have affected me. In one of these paintings, the artist included the words “Eram Qvod Es.” The translation resonates within me: “Once I was what you are now.”


All images © courtesy of Paulette Tavormina and Robert Klein Gallery, Boston