James Peale (American, 1749–1831)
Still Life with Fruit, ca. 1821
Oil on wood panel
18 ¼ x 25 ¼ in. (46.4 x 64.1 cm)

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From a famous Philadelphia family of artists–the youngest brother of Charles Wilson Peale and uncle to Raphaelle–James Peale came to follow in his nephew’s footsteps by creating extremely realistic and intimate, moralizing still lifes of fruits and other objects on tables brought up close to the viewer. This painting, which typifies the growing taste for fruit still lifes during the 1820s and 1830s, offers a lovely image of contrasting colors displayed in peaches, pears, and multiple varieties of grapes. Some fruits are contained within a stylized white basket-like dish or pannier; others seem to spill more “naturally” across the surface of a table. Microscopic attention to detail harkens back to the Dutch tradition, but also aligns with James Peale’s simultaneous interests as a 19th-century miniaturist painter and a student of the natural sciences.

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