As he and many others point out, transience is built into Dutch still life. You often have paintings of flowers that are starting to wilt, or a glass that has a chip or a crack into it. There are all these intimations of decline and decay, even as the objects are so beautifully rendered. That ties in with Simon Schama’s argument about the fundamental ambivalence of the Dutch who, even as they experienced this incredible economic prosperity and abundance, had a lot of guilt about it tied in with Calvinist religious beliefs, with the sense that they were constantly beset and imperilled on all sides by enemy forces.
Original source: The Best Books on The Dutch Masters