still life; fruit
Margaretta Angelica Peale based with quiet still life on careful, precise observation, at a time when women artists often favored more sentimental still lifes or genre scenes. She shows the shiny wetness of the watermelon seeds and the drying edges of a grape leaf. An austere background, typical of her work, sets off the firm, luscious fruit.
Few women of Peale's era received formal artistic training or worked in the demanding medium of oil painting. Peale came from an illustrious family of American artists, headed by her uncle Charles Willson Peale, who was a painter, naturalist and founder of a museum of natural history. Her father, the noted still-life painter James Peale, taught her and her three sisters to paint. While Margaretta Peale produced a few portraits, she is best known for her still lifes, which she exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1828 to 1837.