Still Life with Peaches
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Visions and Myths of a Nation, 1800–1890
A Poor Man’s Still Lifes
With a few objects arranged on a ledge before an indistinct background, Raphaelle Peale’s paintings suggest a restraint that perhaps reflects the impoverished circumstances of the artist’s life. Still Life with Cake portrays only a blemished apple, raisins, and a “poor man’s pound cake,” usually made from leftover dough, to which sugar or nutmeg would be added. In Still Life with Peaches, the relatively expensive dessert bowl adds refinement to the composition, but in all likelihood, Peale did not own it.
Oil on panel
12 13/16 x 19 5/16 in. (32.5 x 49 cm)
frame: 19 1/16 x 25 9/16 x 2 1/2 in. (48.4 x 64.9 x 6.4 cm) (show scale)
Signed lower right: "Raphaelle Peale Septr. 14th. 1821."
Caroline H. Polhemus Fund
Raphaelle Peale (American, 1774-1825). Still Life with Peaches, 1821. Oil on panel, 12 13/16 x 19 5/16 in. (32.5 x 49 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Caroline H. Polhemus Fund, 35.1865 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 35.1865_SL1.jpg)
overall, 35.1865_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Are these sorts of still life paintings just a display of skill, or are they supposed to mean something more?
They are actually both! They express or advertise the artist's skills, but still lifes also traditionally have overtones of the ephemerality of life.
The luxuries depicted here are beautiful but the fruit would go bad very quickly. See if you can spot any signs that any of it is past its prime.