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Vase of Fruit
Artist unidentified

Location: New England, United States

Date: c. 1830–1860

Materials: Watercolor and pencil on paper

Dimensions: 14 1/2 × 10 1/2"

Credit: Gift of Cyril Irwin Nelson in memory of his grandparents Guerdon Stearns and Elinor Irwin Holden and in honor of his parents, Cyril Arthur and Elise Macy Nelson

Accession Number: 1983.29.2

Photo credit: John Parnell

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Description

During the Renaissance, artists produced monochromatic paintings and drawings exclusively in tones of gray to simulate classical sculpture. Neoclassical taste at the turn of the nineteenth century reinvigorated monochromatic themes in the decorative arts, and work en grisaille persisted through the middle of the century in forms such as theorem paintings and sandpaper drawings. This is one of several similar compositions painted in monochromatic washes in shades of gray. Initially it gives the appearance of a theorem painting, executed with the aid of stencils, but many elements appear to have been painted freehand to simulate the theorem’s hard-edged effect.

The image closely follows the lithograph Vase of Fruit published by Kelloggs & Comstock of New York City and Hartford, Connecticut (1848–1850). This type of still life, depicting overflowing displays of fruit and flowers, captured the growing sense of America’s bounty after the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Instructions and copy sources were provided by teachers and also published in magazines, which accounts for the multiple examples of patterns that exist today.

Stacy C. Hollander, "Vase of Fruit," in American Anthem: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum (New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with American Folk Art Museum, 2001), 341.


Vase of Fruit
Date: c. 1830–1860
Artist:
Dimensions: 14 1/2 × 10 1/2"
Materials: Watercolor and pencil on paper
Credit Line: Gift of Cyril Irwin Nelson in memory of his grandparents Guerdon Stearns and Elinor Irwin Holden and in honor of his parents, Cyril Arthur and Elise Macy Nelson
Place/Region: United States
Description: Monochromatic theorem painting of compote with short stem and wide circular base holding abundant display of fruit, flowers and leaves standing on rectangular slab with thumb-grooved edge, executed in shades of gray. Grapes LS and RS, peaches middle, flowers and leaves around back; behind vertical leaves. Compote ringed with small leaves and larger overlapping leaves with black spots. All forms outlined in pencil and filled with graphite or watercolor wash. Negative spaces darkly inked. On plain paper. Frame: Heavily grained and varnished wood frame, 2.5" w., molding with fluted thumb groove and lapped joins. White mat, black paper backing.
Accession Number: 1983.29.2
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