During Raphaelle Peale’s time, still life was not esteemed by most artists, relegated to the bottom of the hierarchy of painting subjects. Yet Peale ignored its low status and is now acknowledged as America’s first professional still-life painter and leading practitioner of the genre. Born into an artistic Philadelphia family, Raphaelle was the eldest son of Charles Willson Peale and the nephew of James Peale, both artists; his siblings were, like him, named after famous old master painters (he had brothers named Rembrandt, Titian, and Rubens). Characterized by crisp forms and serenely balanced compositions, most of Peale’s still lifes portray food, crockery, and glassware arranged on a plain shelf, parallel to the picture plane. In this particularly fine example, the rhythmic balance of fruit, nuts, and Chinese export porcelain is enlivened by the diagonal branch of grapes becoming raisins and an orange leaf. These objects are brightly illuminated against a bare, dark background in the manner of the dramatic still-life compositions of 17th-century painters such as Juan Sánchez Cotán. Peale may have seen the Spanish artist’s work when it was shown at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1818.
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Dorothy C. Miller and Alfred H. Barr, Jr., eds., American Realists and Magic Realists (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1943), 9 ill.
Wolfgang Born, Still–Life Painting in America, New York, 1947, 13, fig. 23, 14 ill.
Alfred Frankenstein, The Reality of Appearance, The Trompe L’Oeil Tradition in American Painting (New York, 1970) cat. no. 7, 36, 37 ill.
William H. Gerdts and Russell Burke, American Still–Life Painting (New York, Washington, London, 1971), 31.
William H. Gerdts, Painters of the Humble Truth (Columbia, Missouri and London, 1981), 59–60, fig. 2.9, 59, ill.
Beatrice B. Garvan, Federal Philadelphia, 1785–1825, The Athens of the Western World, (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1987), cat. no. 230, fig. 50, 82, ill.
Tom Armstrong, “The New Field–McCormick Galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago,” Magazine Antiques, 134, 4 (October 1988), 822–834, pl. VII, 826, ill.
Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr. , Raphaelle Peale Still Life (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1988), fig. 41, 53, ill.
Art Institute of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report 1990–91 (Chicago, 1991) Fig. 1, 1, ill.
“Principales Acquisitions des Musees en 1991,” Gazette des Beaux Arts (March 1992), fig. 243, 71, ill.
Lillian B. Miller, “Father and Son: The Relationship of Charles Willson Peale and Raphaelle Peale,” American Art Journal, 25, 1 and 2 (1993), 4–61, ill. p. 52.
Annie V. F. Storr, “Raphaelle Peale’s Strawberries, Nuts & c: A Riddle of Enlightened Science,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, 21, 1 (1995), 24, 35, ill.
Judith A. Barter et al., American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), 137–8, ill.
Judith A. Barter, “True to the Senses and False in Its Essence: Still–Life and Trompe l’Oeil Painting in Victorian America,” Museum Studies 31, 1 (Art Institute of Chicago, 2005) p. 34 (ill.).
Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago: Highlights of the Collection, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2017) p. 44.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts, Still Life–Strawberries, Nuts & c., cat. no. 154, lent by the artist.
New York, Museum of Modern Art, American Realists and Magic Realists, Feb. 10–Mar. 21, 1943, pp. 9, 63, cat. 13; Buffalo, Albright Gallery, Apr. 5–May 5; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, July 1–30; San Francisco Museum of Art, Aug. 23–Sept. 19; Art Gallery of Toronto, Nov. 12–Dec. 19; Cleveland Museum of Art, Jan. 1–29, 1944.
Milwaukee Art Center, Raphaelle Peale, Still Lifes and Portraits, Jan. 15–Feb. 15, 1959, cat. no. 4, as Still Life, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Graham, cat. by Charles Coleman Sellers; New York, M. Knoedler & Company, Mar. 2– Mar. 31, 1959.
Winston–Salem, North Carolina, Public Library, A Rationale for Modern Art, touring exhibition organized by the American Federation of Arts, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Graham, Oct. 1–21, 1959; St. Louis, Nov. 2–22, 1959; New York, Time Inc., Dec. 7–18; Mansfield, Ohio, Kingwood Center, Jan. 3–24, 1960; Michigan, Midland Art Association, Feb. 5–25, 1960; Miami Beach Art Center, Mar. 1–31, 1960; Dallas, Southern Methodist University, Apr. 12–May 3; Seattle, Charles and Emma Frye Museum, May 15–June 6; San Francisco Museum of Art, June 16–July 17; Norwich, Conn., Slater Memorial Museum, Oct. 10–30, 1960.
New Haven, Conn., Yale University Art Gallery, American Art from Alumni Collections, Apr. 25–June 16, 1968, cat. 79, ill. as Still Life with Strawberries, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Graham.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 18th– and 19th– Century American Art from Private Collections, June 27–Sept. 11, 1972, cat. no. 49, as Bowl of Strawberries, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Graham.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Three Centuries of American Art, Apr. 11–Oct. 10, 1976, cat. no. 213, p. 255, ill. as Still Life with Strawberries, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Graham.
Tulsa, Okla., Philbrook Art Center, Painters of the Humble Truth: Masterpieces of American Still Life, 1801–1939, Sept. 27–Nov. 1, 1981, fig. 3.9, p. 59, ill. as Still Life with Wild Strawberries, lent by Edith and Robert Graham1; Oakland Museum, Dec. 8, 1981–Jan. 24, 1982; Baltimore Museum of Art, Mar. 2–Apr. 25, 1982; New York, National Academy of Design, May 18–July 4, 1982.
Art Institute of Chicago, Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine, Nov. 10, 2013–Jan. 27, 2014; Fort Worth, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Feb. 22–May 18, 2014, cat. 54.
Mr. Feldman, Philadelphia by 1940. James Graham and Sons Gallery, New York, by 1941. Robert C. Graham, N.Y. by 1946. Jamee J. and Marshall Field III by 1991; given by them to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1991.
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