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Oil painting - Flowers and Fruit
  • Flowers and Fruit
    Robie, Jean Baptiste, born 1821 - died 1910
  • Enlarge image

Flowers and Fruit

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Brussels (painted)

  • Date:

    1863 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Robie, Jean Baptiste, born 1821 - died 1910 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Joshua Dixon

  • Museum number:

    1045-1886

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

A woodland landscape by a river bank with a still life of ferns and pink and white flowers and a basket of rasberries on a rock at the lower right. Jean Baptiste Robie (1821-1910) was a Belgian artist who primarily painted flower and fruit still lifes and game-pieces in the tradition of 17th century Dutch still life paintings but with a new, brighter colour palette and a softer, more Romantic, 19th century aspect. Robie appears to have carefully constructed each of his compositions which include emphatic verticals, visible here in the prominent tree-trunks, and assigned each a particular colour palette, here the work is dominated by whites, pinks and reds against grey/green landscape background. Another signed and dated still life by Robie is in the V&A collection (1044-1886) which reveals a similar compositional construction and attention to light effects but is executed in a palette of warm creamy-whites and purples.

Physical description

A woodland landscape by a river bank with a still life of ferns and pink and white flowers and a basket of rasberries on a rock at the lower right

Place of Origin

Brussels (painted)

Date

1863 (painted)

Artist/maker

Robie, Jean Baptiste, born 1821 - died 1910 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'J. Robie Bruxelles 1863'
Signed and dated by the artist, lower left

Dimensions

Height: 132 cm approx., Width: 98.7 cm approx., :

Object history note

Bequeathed by Joshua Dixon, 1886
Joshua Dixon (1811-1885), was the son of Abraham Dixon of Whitehaven and brother of George Dixon (who was head of the foreign merchants firm of Rabone Brothers in Birmingham 1883-98). Educated at Leeds Grammar School, and was deputy chairman of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company 1869-70. Died Winslade, near Exeter, 7 December 1885. Bequeathed all his collection of drawings, watercolours and oil paintings to the Bethnal Green Museum; they have since been transferred to the V&A. He also collected engravings, Japanese vases and panels, and bronze and marble sculpture.

Ref: Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, (Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990), p.xx.

Historical significance: Jean Baptiste Robie (1821-1910) was a Belgian artist who primarily painted flower and fruit still lifes and game-pieces in the tradition of 17th century Dutch still life paintings but with a new, brighter colour palette and a softer, more Romantic, aspect. Robie appears to have carefully constructed each of his compositions which include emphatic verticals, visible here in the prominent tree-trunks, and assigned each a particular colour palette, here the work is dominated by whites, pinks and reds against grey/green landscape background. Another signed and dated still life by Robie is in the V&A collection (1044-1886) which reveals a similar compositional construction and attention to light effects but is executed in a palette of warm creamy-whites and purples.

Historical context note

The term ‘still life’ conventionally refers to works depicting an arrangement of diverse inanimate objects including fruits, flowers, shellfish, vessels and artefacts. The term derives from the Dutch 'stilleven', which became current from about 1650 as a collective name for this type of subject matter. Still-life reached the height of its popularity in Western Europe, especially in the Netherlands, during the 17th century although still-life subjects already existed in pre-Classical, times. Soon, different traditions of still life with food items developed in Flanders and in the Netherlands where they became especially popular commodities in the new bourgeois art market. Dutch painters played a major role the development of this genre, inventing distinctive variations on the theme over the course of the century while Flemish artist Frans Snyders' established a taste for banquet pieces. These works were developed further in Antwerp by the Dutchman Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1684) who created opulent baroque confections of fruit, flowers, and precious vessels that became a standardized decorative type throughout Europe. Scholarly opinion had long been divided over how all of these images should be understood. The exotic fruits and valuable objects often depicted testify to the prosperous increase in wealth in cities such as Amsterdam and Haarlem but may also function as memento mori, or vanitas, that is, reminders of human mortality and invitations to meditate upon the passage of time.

The artistic relationships between the Northern and the Southern Netherlands, that is modern-day Holland and Belgium, were very strong during the 19th century especially after the proclamation of the Kingdom of Netherlands in 1815. The Prix de Rome was awarded equally to Antwerp and Amsterdam artists, even after the independence of Belgium in 1830. The majority of Belgian art of the first half of the 19th century, including history painting, genre scenes, landscape and portrait paintings, articulated a new national pride which nevertheless drew upon French academic taste.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Flowers and Fruit', Jean Baptiste Robie, 1863

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 . London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 87, cat. no. 188.
W. Shaw Sparrow, 'The Dixon Bequest at Bethnal Green' in Magazine of Art, XV, 1892.
Brigitte Schuermans, Jean Robie, 1821-1910 Bruxelles : Editions Racine, 2008.

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Still life; Berries

Categories

Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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