Still Life: Fruit in a Classical Setting

John Vanderlyn, Jr. (1805-1876)
Date: 1854-1858
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 32 H x 42 W
Credit: Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase
Accession Number: 1983.11
Comments: An engagingly provincial artist, John Vanderlyn, Jr., painted both houses and pictures. In this still life, he shares the idea of bountifulness that characterized so much mid-century American still-life painting by better-known artists of the period. Pears were popular during this era, and accordingly dominate in this composition. The artist contrasts nature's bounty with elegant objects in a variety of materials: glass, ceramics, silver, marble, wood, and fabric. The whole display is theatrically presented with a raised curtain hanging above and a proscenium-like arch derived from an architectural pattern book. The painting's large size suggests that it was destined to be the decorative center of attention in a dining room, a new development for American still-life painting during the 1850s.