About this artwork
Academic theory during Raphaelle Peale’s time relegated still life 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 (e.g., he had brothers named Rembrandt, Titian, and Rubens). Characterized by crisp forms and serenely balanced compositions, most of Peale’s still lifes portray food (mainly fruit), 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 raisins and orange leaf. These objects are brightly illuminated against a bare, dark background in the manner of the dramatic still-life com-positions of seventeenth-century masters such as the Spanish painter Juan Sánchez Cotán. Peale may have seen Sánchez Cotán’s work when it was shown at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1818.
- Raphaelle Peale
- Still Life - Strawberries, Nuts, &c.
- Oil on wood panel
- Signed, lower right: "Raphaelle Peale/1822"
- 41.1 × 57.8 cm (16 3/16 × 22 3/4 in.)
- Gift of Jamee J. and Marshall Field