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JAMES PEALE
American, 1749 - 1831
Still Life with Vegetables
1826
Oil on canvas

20 x 26 ½ inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of the Theta Charity Antiques Show
in honor of Mrs. Fred T. Couper, Jr.

 
ABOUT

James Peale's still-life paintings are graceful arrangements of color, texture, and form. Here, variously colored squashes, turnips, radishes, beets, and a bright red tomato surround a purple eggplant, coming together in a sinuous, pyramid-shaped form. The arrangement is placed upon a plain tabletop, with squash leaves tumbling over in the viewer's space at lower left.  

When failing eyesight prompted Peale to give up his career in portrait miniatures, he began to create still lifes and quickly became a master of the genre and one of America's foremost still-life painters. Works such as this one burst forth with fresh, crisply rendered, and brightly colored garden vegetables bathed in a soothing, golden light. Their crisp and solemn tone has been associated with the 17th-century Spanish still-life tradition, specifically the work of Juan Sanchez Cotan. When Peale painted Still Life with Vegetables for his daughter, he was 76 years old. Peale's brother, Charles Willson Peale, is also represented in the Bayou Bend Collection.