Still-life painting became popular in Europe in the seventeenth century. Lacking the traditional patronage of Church and court, Dutch artists excelled at these banquet table scenes. They were especially popular among the growing merchant class who were interested in commercial goods. These paintings also served as reminders of the transient nature of life. Here, the artist shows plates precariously set near the edge of the table on a rumpled tablecloth and a knife with its handle jutting out towards the spectator, which suggests a sudden departure of people from the scene. The pocket watch with a winding key on a ribbon further emphasizes the effect of fleeting time.