Strawberries and Cherries

Margaretta Angelica Peale

Strawberries and Cherries


Margaretta Angelica Peale (1795-1882)




Oil on canvas


10 1/16 x 12 1/8 in. (25.55875 x 30.7975 cm.)

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Like her father James, who trained her, and her uncle, sisters, and cousins, Margaretta Peale joined "the family business" of art-making. She most likely began her career in 1813 and exhibited still lifes in the Academy annuals of the 1820s. Although Peale was reluctant to call herself a professional artist, this charming still life nevertheless testifies to Peale's skill. Against a neutral background, the artist isolated a porcelain bowl of ripe berries, flanked by a cluster of cherries. Lit from the left, the simple, yet effective composition juxtaposes the warm reds and yellows of the strawberries and cherries with the cool olive and gray background and shelf. While obviously influenced by her father, whose works she occasionally copied, as well as by her first cousin Raphaelle, the first exhibiting painter of still lifes in the United States, Margaretta favored more stark arrangements of objects. She also responded to the influence of seventeenth-century Dutch still lifes, which began to be collected by Philadelphians in increasing numbers and were exhibited at the Academy in the early nineteenth century. She exhibited her works publicly, many titled simply "Fruit Piece," in the 1820s and 1830s. Other versions of this subject exist, one of which is dated 1865.