Object Image

Melons and Morning Glories

Raphaelle Peale's father, Charles Willson Peale, urged his son to paint portraits instead of still lifes, which brought an artist less prestige and fewer commissions. But still lifes suited Raphaelle, who also worked as a taxidermist. He painted this melon as if it were a body opened up for examination, detailing its fluids and flesh so that the painting suggests life, fertility, and death, all at once.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006

Credit: Gift of Paul Mellon...

1813
Oil on canvas
52.6 x 65.4cm
1967.39.2
Image and text: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2024

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