For this assignment, I visited the Columbia Museum of Art. The painting I chose was titled “Still Life with Fruit” and was created by Severin Roesen in the mid 1800s. In the painting itself, you clearly see the varieties of different colored grapes with mixtures ranging from light green to dark green, along with green-purple and light-purple to dark purple grapes. Other fruits that are featured in this painting include a watermelon, peaches or possibly apples, along with many berries.
The grapes are still attached to their vines and leaves and are mostly piled onto other fruit. Along with the fruits and vines in the painting, there is a single glass plate and what looks to be a cocktail glass for alcohol. You can also tell that there is no straight line in the painting in its entirety. The vines are curvy like a branch of an actual tree and the grapes are painted roundly, along with every other fruit that he painted.
The color of the leaves range between green and orange, with some of the leaves being a mixture of the two colors. The background the painting is completely brown.
Grapes are typically the fruit for the wealthy. They also can symbolize things like power, order, authority, and healthiness. The color of the grapes and the stems are mostly different around the painting, which give the impression of the timeliness of the artist. In the time that it took Roesen to paint the whole painting, the original grapes that he was painting would have been rotted and out of date.
Therefore, two things could have happened: a) Roesen could have replaced his fruits, or b) painted them as they were growing old and rotting. The fruits seems to be proportional to all of the other focus points in the picture like they would be in real life. For example, the watermelon is significantly bigger than a peach. Roesen chose mostly warm colors so that the painting itself is easy on the eyes and in the fruits themselves, each one of them has a white circle that for the artist can portray that the painting looks like an actual picture taken from a camera, or as if the sun is hitting the fruit. As if there was a flash, and the freshly washed fruit is shiny, so it allows the artist to make his painting is of higher prestige. Also, in typical fruits bowls for display, you can see aspects of symmetry, but in the painting, Roesen chose to make his painting completely asymmetrical as if the fruit was stacked in the middle to where the main part of the piece is grapes.
Usually when leaves change colors, they are dying and losing their moisture. The vine stems seem to be cut in order to be able to fit the frame, but another interpretation could be that he cut the vines to show that specific color of age for the grapes and to add that additional color. It is also interesting in the placement of everything that is not grapes. The peaches, the berries, and the watermelon are all fruits with exceptional bright colors, which is distributed throughout the painting and gives it light in dark places and vis versa. The peaches specifically are even grouped together with one or two more peaches to be able to contribute to the distribution of colors. However, Roesen really grabs the attention of whoever is looking at the plate and glass in the photo. The glass of wine is emphasized because it is sitting on a white plate. Typically, white is a color that means pure or holy. Based off this evidence, it is almost as if Roesen is depicting his organized array of fruit to glorify the wine glass. Also, when painting the wine in the glass, the drink is filled with carbonation bubbles as if the drink was just poured. Another interesting interpretation is that in the 1850s, many Dutch artists painted these oil- based paintings to illustrate “the transience of life”, meaning to show that not just humans age and change their appearance but so can fruits.
This painting really caught my eye in the museum because from far-away the painting looks extremely realistic and for the first minute that I was looking at it without reading the description, I thought it was a photograph, but these oil based paintings were designed so intricately that this painting literally would have taken forever. This painting in a way shows what happens when things get old, and really makes you reflect on your own life.
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