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MFA Images: Kitchen

  • MFA Images: Kitchen - Slide

  • Fruit Displayed on a Stand

    about 1881–82

    Gustave Caillebotte, French, 1848–1894 French

    Description

    Caillebotte delighted in unusual vantage points and compositions. This close-up view of fruit stacked on a market stand creates a bold pattern of repeated forms and colors, while the sensuous brushstrokes suggest the lusciousness of the fruit. A loyal and well-to-do member of the Impressionist group, Caillebotte bequeathed his extensive painting collection to the state. It became the nucleus of the Impressionist collection now in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

    Details

    Dimensions

    76.5 x 100.6 cm (30 1/8 x 39 5/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1979.196

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Basket of Fruit

    1860

    Rubens Peale, American, 1784–1865 American

    Description

    Although Rubens Peale, the fourth son of Charles Willson Peale, was born into a family of artists, he did not begin painting until the last ten years of his life. Because of deficient eyesight, he had not learned to paint with his siblings but had instead devoted his life to directing museums, including his father's, and then had retired to a farm. His interest in horticulture was recorded in an early portrait, "Rubens Peale with a Geranium" by his brother Rembrandt (1801, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) When he took up the brush at age seventy-one, his botanical interests led him to concentrate on "fruit pieces." Lacking a formal artistic education, Peale learned to compose pictures by making copies of other artists' canvases, especially those by his uncle James and brother Raphaelle. "Basket of Fruit,"an original conception, nevertheless shows the influence of Raphaelle Peale in its austerity.

    With Neoclassical restraint, Peale arranged the basket on a shiny table against a plain background. He depicted the strongly-illuminated fruit with botanical accuracy, capturing the white bloom on the grapes and the variegated coloring of the apples. Peale mitigated the static quality of his composition by situating the basket with its slightly tilted handle to the left of center and balancing it with the apple on the table. "Basket of Fruit" is recorded in Peale's painter's register: "49. Fruit. Basket of apples with grapes, "for my niece Anna Sellers." Com[menced] Oct. 22, 1860. Varnished Dec. 19, 1860." After giving the painting to his niece, the seventy-six year old artist wrote in his journal, "I got a letter this evening from Anna Sellers thanking me for the Christmas present of the fruit piece which I painted for her, her brothers are all pleased with it. They are surprised that I could paint so good a picture at my time of life."

    Janet Comey

    Details

    Dimensions

    35.56 x 55.88 cm (14 x 22 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.464

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Flowers and a Bowl of Fruit on a Table

    1894

    Paul Gauguin, French, 1848–1903

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    43.2 x 62.9 cm (17 x 24 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas mounted on paperboard

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.546

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Fruit and a Jug on a Table

    about 1890–94

    Paul Cézanne, French, 1839–1906

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    32.4 x 40.6 cm (12 3/4 x 16 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.524

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Apples

    1867

    Thomas Worthington Whittredge, American, 1820–1910 American

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    38.73 x 30.8 cm (15 1/4 x 12 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.490

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Wilson's Albany (Strawberries) from D.M. Dewey,...

    1875

    Artist Unidentified artist, American, 19th century

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 22.2 x 13.7 cm (8 3/4 x 5 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Stencil and watercolor

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    1970.548

    Collections

    Prints and Drawings

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  • Apples in a Tin Pail

    1892

    Levi Wells Prentice, American, 1851–1935 American

    Description

    Fruit continued to be a frequent theme of still life paintings throughout the nineteenth century, despite the growing popularity of floral paintings. De Scott Evans, Joseph Decker, John McCloskey, and Levi Wells Prentice all painted fruit in a hard-edged or trompe l'oeil style during the last decades of the nineteenth century. Almost entirely self-taught, Prentice began his career in 1871 as a landscape painter in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state. It was not until he moved to Brooklyn in 1883 that he began to paint still lifes, usually of fruit, although occasionally of flowers and fish. Prentice supplemented his living by designing furniture, building houses, making frames, and creating stained glass windows. He also made all his own palettes, brushes, easels, frames, and shadow boxes.

    Prentice made painting apples somewhat of a specialty, depicting the fruit in no fewer than forty pictures. In the 1840s, the Boston writer-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson declared the apple to be America's "national fruit." An integral part of the American diet for four centuries, apples have traditionally been used in pies, jellies, applesauce, and cakes, eaten plain or baked, and made into cider-especially hard cider, a staple in the nineteenth century. Prentice's paintings of apples depict the fruit variously spilling out of baskets, bags, and hats on the ground or on a tabletop, growing on boughs, or loosely resting on the ground. The Museum's picture, his best-known still life, shows apples in a tin pail, on a rough table, and in a bowl. Bruised and blemished, the apples are undoubtedly to be used for cooking or for cider. While the subject matter of the painting is humble, Prentice's technique is meticulous. He portrayed each apple with hard-edged realism and painstakingly conveyed the reflections of the apples and the bowl in the curved, gleaming surface of the tin pail. A striking composition of rounded forms in vibrant colors, Prentice's painting celebrates a plentiful harvest in rural America.

    This text was adapted from Davis, et al., MFA Highlights: American Painting (Boston, 2003) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    41.27 x 33.65 cm (16 1/4 x 13 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1978.468

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Peaches in a Bowl

    about 1925

    Charles Sheeler, American, 1883–1965 American

    Description

    Still-life painting was of such importance to Sheeler that he wrote an essay on the subject in about 1925 (unpublished, Forbes Watson Papers, Archives of American Art, Reel D56: 1094). In this essay, Sheeler made clear his admiration of Paul Cézanne, whose work he had seen during a trip to Europe in 1908-09 and subsequently in New York City. He realized that Cézanne's "selection [of objects] is based upon preference in the matter of shapes, surfaces, and quantities related to a geometric structure," and attempted to develop a similar underlying structure in his own work. Sheeler, like Cézanne, favored the genre because he could control the content, layout, and lighting in the pictures. He began making tabletop still lifes as early as 1910, but the mid-1920s were a particularly productive period for him. Sheeler's compositions usually included either fruit or flowers, often arranged in his growing collection of early American glassware and pottery. As Troyen and Hirshler remark, most of Sheeler's pictures of this type are "plain - the flowers were never exotic species, the glassware and furnishings were distinguished by their proportions rather than by surface embellishments - and he rendered them in an understated, self-effacing way" (Carol Troyen and Erica E. Hirshler, "Charles Sheeler: Paintings and Drawings," Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1987, p. 106).

    "Peaches in a Bowl" is deceptively simple; it portrays two pieces of fruit in a glass compote on a table. Sheeler painted the arrangement as if he were photographing it from above, using a tightly framed, close-up view, which has the effect of tilting up the surface and making his subject seem powerfully immediate. There is subtle tension in the composition. The blue table does not form the anticipated straight line across the background of the picture; the left edge is inexplicably lower than the right. The compote is off-center and cropped on the right. The fruit occupies the left side of the glass container, and together with the shadow, has the effect of making the upper left portion of the picture dense compared with the emptiness in the lower right. This serves to undermine our expectation that the still-life will have a solid base.

    The off-center placement of the compote and its contents may derive from Sheeler's study of Cézanne's paintings, which often reveal asymmetric compositions [see 48.524]. Equally Cézannesque are the juxtaposition of chromatic opposites - the yellow-orange fruit against the intensely blue table; the broad, parallel brushstrokes that define the peaches; and the sense of the subject as a vignette removed from its context. The geometric shapes - spheres, circles and squares - of the peaches and compote, and the tension between realism and abstraction, invigorate Sheeler's rendering just as they energized the still lifes of the artist he so admired.

    Janet Comey

    Details

    Dimensions

    25.08 x 20.32 cm (9 7/8 x 8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1997.130

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Oranges

    cancelled 1905

    Artist Unknown, Japanese

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 8.8 x 13.8 cm (3 7/16 x 5 7/16 in.)

    Medium

    Color lithograph; ink on card stock

    Classification

    Postcards

    Accession Number

    2002.18684

    Collections

    Asia , Prints and Drawings

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  • Still Life with Roses in a Glass Vase

    Samuel John Peploe, Scottish, 1871–1935 Scottish

    Description

    The Scottish painter Peploe spent a number of years in Paris, where he responded to a range of influences from contemporary avant-garde art. Although he painted figure subjects and landscapes, Peploe preferred still life to both. “There is so much,” he explained, “in mere objects, flowers, leaves, jugs, what not—colors, forms, relations—I can never see that mystery coming to an end.”

    Details

    Dimensions

    61 x 50.8 cm (24 x 20 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.586

    Collections

    Europe

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  • A Porcelain Bowl with Fruit

    1830

    James Peale, American, 1749–1831 American

    Description

    A member of the illustrious Peale family, which played a prominent role in the cultural and intellectual life of postcolonial America, James Peale grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, and received his artistic training from his older brother Charles Willson Peale, who had studied in London with Benjamin West. After serving in the Continental Army under George Washington, James moved to Philadelphia, where he joined his brother’s portrait studio, painting miniatures while Charles handled the commissions for larger-scale canvases. Though he exhibited a still life in 1795 at the Columbianum exhibition in Philadelphia, James painted few if any still lifes during the next twenty years. His reputation as one of the first professional still-life painters in the United States, a distinction he shares with Charles’s son Raphaelle, rests on the works that he executed between 1819 and 1831 and exhibited at Rembrandt Peale’s Baltimore Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Boston Athenaeum. Why James turned to still life so late in his career is not known, but it may well have been Raphaelle’s example that inspired him. Still-life painting held little economic incentive prior to the second decade of the nineteenth century. By that time the number of exhibitions mounted in the United States began to increase, thus providing painters with more opportunities to display their works to the public, an important consideration in the case of still lifes, which were usually painted on speculation rather than on commission. [1]
    Peale favored pieces of fruit or vegetables or combinations thereof and in general placed them in wicker baskets, directly on a table or shelf, or in a ceramic bowl as he does here. He painted a number of his still lifes in a classical style, emphasizing solid simple forms and balanced rectilinear designs. While the present canvas displays well-modeled pieces of fruit and clearly delineated geometric shapes, a nascent romantic spirit tempers its classical sobriety. Light plays over the objects and the background, illuminating some passages and leaving others in darkness, giving the canvas a faintly moody quality. Bunches of grapes fall languorously from the bowl and lie expressively on the table.The lines bounding the different objects are slightly blurred, and the composition is arranged along a diagonal line that moves from the lower left corner through the center of the picture. As in many of his still lifes, Peale depicted blemishes and brown spots on the pieces of fruit. Those spots not only enhance the naturalism of the image, but also insinuate the specters of death and decay, favored Romantic themes, and link the canvas to the tradition of vanitas still lifes, which remind the viewer of the transience of life.

    On the evidence of the inscription on the original canvas, this work is customarily dated to 1830. James’s nephew Rubens Peale, another son of Charles, painted two copies of this composition that date to 1856 and 1860 (Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, New York, and Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts). In Rubens’s versions, the light is more evenly distributed, the line tighter, and the composition altogether stiffer.

    Notes
    1.William H. Gerdts, Painters of the Humble Truth: Masterpieces of American Still Life, 1801–1939, exh. cat. (Columbia, Mo.: Philbrook Art Center and University of Missouri Press, 1981), 50–51.

    This text was adapted from Karyn Esielonis, Still-Life Painting in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, exh. cat. (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1994).

    Details

    Dimensions

    41.59 x 56.83 cm (16 3/8 x 22 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1979.520

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Crawford's Early - (peach)

    1875

    Artist Anonymous, American, 19th century, American

    Description
    Details

    Medium

    Lithograph

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    1970.552

    Collections

    Americas , Prints and Drawings

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  • Study of Fruit

    1877

    John William Hill, American (born in England), 1812–1879 American

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 15.6 x 27 cm (6 1/8 x 10 5/8 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor over graphite on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    55.753

    Collections

    Americas , Prints and Drawings

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  • Eggplants and Pears

    1925

    Charles Demuth, American, 1883–1935

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 35.4 x 50.7 cm (13 15/16 x 19 15/16 in.)

    Medium

    Opaque and transparent watercolor over graphite on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    48.765

    Collections

    Americas , Prints and Drawings

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  • Still Life with Melon and Pears

    about 1772

    Luis Meléndez, Spanish, 1716–1780 Spanish

    Description

    Meléndez favored arrangements of everyday objects painted with sober yet sensuous realism. He savored shapes, surfaces, and colors—from the webbed rind of the melon to the glint of a wine bottle cooling in a cork bucket—and despite the profusion of objects, his paintings convey a satisfying sense of balance and measure. This still life may be from a series of forty-five, said to represent “every species of food produced in Spain,” that Meléndez created for the king’s summer residence outside Madrid. Ironically, many were painted at a time when poor harvests had produced severe food shortages. The artist himself had no money to buy food, claiming that his brush was his only asset.

    Details

    Dimensions

    63.8 x 85.1 cm (25 1/8 x 33 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    39.41

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Brighton Grapes (from D.M. Dewey, Nurseryman's Pocket Book...

    1875

    Artist Unidentified artist, American, 19th century

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 22 x 13.4 cm (8 11/16 x 5 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Stencil

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    1970.546

    Collections

    Prints and Drawings

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  • Crawford's Late - (peach)

    1875

    Artist Unidentified artist, American, 19th century

    Description
    Details

    Medium

    Stencil

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    1970.547

    Collections

    Prints and Drawings

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  • Duchess of Oldenburg - (apple)

    1875

    Artist Unidentified artist, American, 19th century

    Description
    Details

    Medium

    Stencil

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    1970.549

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    Prints and Drawings

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  • Dorchester - (blackberries)

    1875

    Artist Unidentified artist, American, 19th century

    Description
    Details

    Medium

    Stencil

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    1970.550

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    Prints and Drawings

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  • Flowers and Fruit

    A. Florian, Active 1800–1835

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 37.1 x 46.4 cm (14 5/8 x 18 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    58.1147

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  • Pods of Chance from the Ephemera portfolio

    1977

    Olivia Parker, American, born in 1941 American

    Description
    Details

    Medium

    Photograph, gelatin silver print, selenium toned

    Classification

    Photographs , Portfolios

    Accession Number

    1980.329

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art , Photography

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  • Mixed Nuts from the Ephemera portfolio

    1975, printed 1977

    Olivia Parker, American, born in 1941 American

    Description
    Details

    Medium

    Photograph, gelatin silver print, selenium toned

    Classification

    Photographs , Portfolios

    Accession Number

    1980.332

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art , Photography

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  • Watermelon

    about 1855

    Unidentified artist, American, mid-19th century, American

    Description

    In the mid-nineteenth century, folk painting, the problematic term commonly used to denote works by unschooled or little-trained professionals, found a committed clientele in the lower- to upper-middle classes - tradesmen, merchants, doctors, and lawyers eager to decorate their houses with pictures that provided permanent records of the people they knew, objects they used, and places they lived. Though they were less expensive than canvases by trained artists, folk paintings nonetheless served as tangible evidence of their owners' economic well-being.
    In this painting the awkward attempt to model forms, to develop space three-dimensionally, and to imitate the colors and textures of the various objects indicate that its painter, who is unknown, was aware of but little practiced in the academic methods basic to American artistic training in the nineteenth century. At the same time the clumsy negotiation of the table, oddly shaped plate, and watermelon as well as the skewed table top contribute to the work's charm. Though the artist did not deliberately intend them, the distortions in the space of the picture and shapes of the objects also give the work a peculiarly modern appeal. Those distortions, which are typical of folk art generally, explain in part the revival of interest in studying, collecting, and exhibiting this art beginning in the 1920s when aesthetic sensibilities shaped by exposure to the works of Cezanne and other Post-Impressionist and Cubist artists were receptive to the folk painter's stark, direct style. Paradoxically the current popularity of folk paintings has put them beyond the financial reach of the very kinds of people for whom they were originally made.
    Although European still lifes rarely feature watermelons, they were common in both folk and fine art in the United States. They were, for example, a favored fruit among members of the Peale family, appearing in still lifes by Raphaelle and James Peale as well as pictures by Margaretta Angelica Peale and Sarah Miriam Peale. The watermelon's desirability as a still-life object was two-fold. With its mottled green rind, pink flesh, and dark brown seeds, it offered the painter a variety of colors and textures. Moreover, water melon was a popular American food. The seeds of the watermelon, which originated in Africa, were brought to the United States by slave traders as well as slaves and cultivated throughout the country. Although derogatory associations between African-Americans and watermelons became commonplace in the later decades of the nineteenth century, they were rare at the time this still life was painted. The watermelon, instead, was consumed by members of all classes during the summer when its cool, wet pulp proved most refreshing. In addition to eating the watermelon flesh, people pickled the rind, particularly in New England, and boiled the fruit to make sugar and molasses.

    This text was adapted from Karyn Esielonis, et al, "Still-Life Painting in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston" (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 1994).

    Details

    Dimensions

    56.2 x 69.53 cm (22 1/8 x 27 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.410

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Tearoom

    1936

    Saeki Shunkô, Japanese, 1909–1942 Japanese

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 264.2 x 198.1 cm (104 x 78 in.) Unglazed.

    Medium

    Panel; ink, color, and silver on paper

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    2007.815

    Collections

    Asia

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