Still Life with Fruit
25 3/16 x 30 3/8 in. (64 x 77.2 cm)
(Philadelphia, PA, 1808 - 1886, Jefferson, PA)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Location: Not currently on view
At first glance, it is tempting to interpret this painting as a celebration of mid-century American bounty. However, a second look finds half-eaten fruit pierced by a knife, bruised peaches, and a hungry hornet, images that suggest overripeness and decay. These elements can be traced back to 16th and 17th century Dutch still life traditions, particularly vanitas paintings that warned of the ephemeral nature of life.
Whether or not John Francis – originally an itinerant, self-taught portrait painter – was consciously invoking old master painting traditions, his involvement with the artistic community in Philadelphia would have exposed him to sophisticated subjects and tastes that, perhaps, he incorporated into his work.
[Gallery label text, 2009]