PEALE, James
(b. 1749, Chesterton, d. 1831, Philadelphia)

Still Life: Balsam Apples and Vegetables

1820s
Oil on canvas, 51,4 x 67,3 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Although American artists were interested in still life in the 18th century, they did not devote themselves to it until the 19th. James Peale, brother of the more prominent artist Charles Willson Peale, led in developing a Philadelphia school of still life. This masterpiece of the genre presents a lavish, colourful assortment of vegetables pyramidally arranged and carefully balanced without kitchen utensils or other man-made objects. Given the variety of textures and shapes depicted, it must be considered something of a tour de force.