The development of oil painting technique by Jan van Eyck and other Northern European artists made it possible to paint everyday objects in this hyper-realistic fashion, owing to the slow drying, mixing, and layering qualities of oil colours. Among the first to break free of religious meaning were Leonardo da Vinci, who created watercolour studies of fruit (around 1495) as part of his restless examination of nature, and Albrecht Dürer who also made precise coloured drawings of flora and fauna.
In Catholic Italy and Spain, the pure vanitas painting was rare, and there were far fewer still-life specialists. In Southern Europe there is more employment of the soft naturalism of Caravaggio and less emphasis on hyper-realism in comparison with Northern European styles. In France, painters of still lifes (nature morte) were influenced by both the Northern and Southern schools, borrowing from the vanitas paintings of the Netherlands and the spare arrangements of Spain. 153554b96e