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The Fuller Building, 41 East 57th Street, 9th Floor New York City, NY 10022 United States 212.535.8810
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$ 350,000

Two-Tiered Still Life of Fruit

Documentation Signed
Period 19th Century
Materials Oil on canvas
Dimensions
W. 40 in; H. 30 in;
W. 101.6 cm; H. 76.2 cm;
Description Born in Cologne, Germany, Roesen began his career as a porcelain and still-life painter. He emigrated to America in 1848 and shortly thereafter married Wilhelmina Ludwig, by whom he had three children. Roesen spent ten years in New York City, from 1848 to 1857, where he sold eleven of his paintings through the American Art-Union.

In 1857, he left his family, most likely in search of a better market for his paintings, and went to Pennsylvania. In 1863, he exhibited a painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, and about that time he moved to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where he spent the rest of his active years. It is thought that sometime around 1872 Roesen traveled back to New York City to spend his final years with his family, but no record of his residence during that period has yet been found.

Two-Tiered Still Life of Fruit depicts an arrangement of fruit and grape vines spilling out over the edge of a two-tiered black marble tabletop. A cornucopia of apples, peaches, plums, and several kinds of grapes are united with a wicker basket filled with strawberries, a slice of watermelon teeming with seeds, and a plate on which rests a peeled lemon, two plums, a cluster of white grapes, a red apple, and a single glass of white dessert wine, creating an atmosphere of rich abundance. For certain painting formats and sizes, Roesen developed what is essentially a prototype, and then made slight variations, adding or substituting various elements to create new works. Judith Hansen O’Toole, in her monograph on the artist, carefully deconstructs Roesen’s still lifes, noting, for example, that his fruit arrangements were composed from a group of twenty-eight different elements (O’Toole, Severin Roesen [1992], p. 114). Roesen obviously followed a set formula that could be modified to the express wishes of his clients. Larger canvases required a more expansive composition, hence the two-tiered format seen here, which greatly increases the profusion of fruits, and thus amplifies the impression of the bounties of nature.

There is one significant deviation from Roesen’s standard practice seen in the present canvas: the upper tier of marble is rotated relative to the bottom one. Only a very small number of works by Roesen feature this compositional device; Roesen scholar Judith Hansen O’Toole avers that she has only ever seen one other such example by Roesen. Otherwise, this picture is very similar to other, large-scale works by Roesen. In fact, Roesen’s work was also formulaic to the extent that his work follows a rather strict hierarchy of canvas sizes. At 30 x 40 inches, Two-Tiered Still Life of Fruit is among a group of the second-largest size of canvases that Roesen executed.
Styles / Movements Realism
Dealer Reference Number APG 20033D
Incollect Reference Number 334036
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