Artwork of the Week: April 3

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Antoine Berjon (French, 1754-1843), Still Life with Grapes, Chestnuts, Melons, and a Marble Cube. Oil on canvas, about 1800-10. Purchased with funds given by Dr. and Mrs. James G. Ravin, 2015

Antoine Berjon (French, 1754-1843), Still Life with Grapes, Chestnuts, Melons, and a Marble Cube. Oil on canvas, about 1800-10. Purchased with funds given by Dr. and Mrs. James G. Ravin, 2015

This seemingly simple arrangement engages the eye in so many complex and subtle ways. The painting is composed of contrasts and comparisons: the artist juxtaposes small, smooth, red grapes with large, rough, ridged melons. Spiky chestnut pods contrast with the sheen of a pair of exposed chestnuts. Unexpectedly, amongst these fruits and nuts of the natural world, Antoine Berjon includes a pristine, white marble cube, shaped by human hands. This curious juxtaposition is emphasized by straight lines and right angles paired with curvaceous and irregular shapes and forms. Further scrutiny brings our attention to the light falling on the objects from the right and the resulting shadows on the ledge and the cube; we even detect reflected color.


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