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Caulfield explores different styles of representation, subverting our expectations about what is real and what is illusory. The scene features a picture-within-a-picture, a device common in his work. The carefully copied source of the still life is Meal by Candlelight, by the seventeenth-century German artist Gottfried von Wedig. Candles often appeared in vanitas paintings, symbolising the brevity of human existence. Because of the abstracted style used for the setting, the painting appears more ‘real’ than the space in which it hangs.

September 2004