Still Life With Cake (1818), a typical still life by Raphaelle Peale (1774 – 1825), the son of Charles Willson Peale, may have been the picture exhibited in 1819 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as Still Life—Wine, Cakes, Grapes, &c. A similar picture dating from the same year is in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Peale’s tightly-grouped still lifes are often permeated with a delicate melancholy akin to that which characterized the life of the artist; he was an alcoholic who suffered the effects of arsenic and mercury poisoning caused by his work as a taxidermist in his father’s museum. His spare, essential style may have been influenced by the Spanish still lifes he studied in Mexico and by the works of Juan Sanchez Cotan, exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1818.
Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Juan Gris (1887 – 1927), a master of disguised images, presents a table brimming with coffee cups, stemmed wineglasses, a large white-footed fruit compote (see from the side and from above) containing thickly painted grapes, a bottle of red wine, a bottle of Bass extra stout ale with its distinctive red diamond logo, a newspaper, and a guitar. Yet, Still Life with Checked Tablecloth (1915) has another equally compelling identity: a Bull’s head. The coffee cup at lower center doubles as the animal’s snout, black-and-white concentric circle at left is a “bull’s eye,” the bottle of ale is an ear, and the sinuous edge of the guitar is the horn. The letters “EAU” on the wine label, which ostensibly stand for “bEAUjolais” can just as easily represent “taurEAU” (Bull).
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC