Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fruit or Something More?

Severin Roesen is an American artist born in Germany. According to Wikimedia, he was born in 1815 and died in 1872. He came to the U.S. in 1848 and moved to Williamsport Pennsylvania in 1860 where he painted Still Life with a Basket of Fruit.

Rosen's art perfectly reflected the young country's optimism and growing wealth. Roesen is considered one of America's grestest still-life painters. His crisply detailed, brilliantly colored compositions represent some of the most complex and elaborate paintings in this genre ever produced.

Roesen used tiny brush strokes to make his art so detailed. He had an eye for detail. It seemed as if the colors in his art weren't always true to the actual object. The colors being off from the actual fruit could represent a rare form of the fruit. Rare can also represent wealth.

The art he did I would think were typically found in a wealthy person's house. Instead, according to Wikipedia, he traded his work with Jacob Flock for lodging and beer. Roesen liked beer. In fact, you would find a faint outline of a beer glass in the corner of his paintings. When a customer objected, he would remove it.

He most often did his still life using fruit. He would restock and rearrange the fruit for new ideas. he would create a garden of fruit. The archetype of a garden is cultivated and carefully planned. I can really see those qualitites in his work. He puts the fruit in those places for a reason. He carefully plans how to place the fruit for the best turnout.

It appears the fruit is very fresh because you can see water droplets on the fruit. To me, that represents wealth because anyone who was not as wealthy would reuse the same fruit for long periods of time. One watermelon is eaten and one is whole. I feel like that is a representation of something larger. Maybe his life is missing something like the eaten watermelon. Maybe he wants to feel whole like the full watermelon. I have mixed feelings on that.

The top of the painting gives off a glittery appearance. To me, that is a huge representation of wealth again. What else sparkles like glitter? Diamonds. Diamonds are more for the wealthy. Could he have been aiming his work towards the wealthy just to earn more money? Or could it be to make him feel wealthy?

For a guy that was normally drunk while doing his art, he really created some masterpieces.


  1. To answer your question, I think you'd need more information about his life. If he wasn't wealthy, then I have no doubt that he was trying to make himself feel wealthy. I agree with you about the watermelon. There was probably some aspect of his life that was missing, and the half-eaten watermelon represents that. I also wonder if the birdnest with eggs in it has any meaning. It doesn't seem to fit in with the fruit.

  2. I agree that for a drunken artist, he could create some extremely detailed pieces of art. I also feel that this piece has symbolic meaning past the basic idea of a still-life. Fruit baskets were often seen in homes of the wealthy, like you mentioned. I think this artist definitely focused on the "classy" and higher social classes in his art. I could see this piece of art in a prestigious museum or rich person's home.

  3. Im sure alcoholism was how he delt with his feelings of un-whole-ness, which you said is represented by the eaten watermelon.
    I never would have guessed that such a basic picture could have so much meaning. I also never would have guessed that of all things, a drunk would paint fruit.
    As for the beer glass outline, what a unique signiture to leave hidden on each piece of art!

  4. I think it is weird how he was always drunk and yet such a great artist. You see images like this hanging on kitchen walls. It reminds me of a painting that would be hung in a huge kitchen, someone that is wealthy. The sparkles, the raindrops, and how the colors of the fruit are rare represents how "rich" the painting looks.

  5. I like how he included glasses from alcohol in his pictures, because it represents him and it's his trade mark. The painting does not look depressing like most drunk artists paintings, but happy. Also, for drinking while painting, he still had a very sturdy hand and accurate painting. I think you are right about the wealth and glitter. I didn't notice that at first but now i can see it.

  6. I feel like that he aimed his artwork towards the wealthy because he would get more money. Since he was a drunk he would want more money to buy beer that's why i think he aimed his art to the wealthy. I am surprise that he was drunk a lot of the time and could still come up with beautiful paintings. He truely is an amazing artist.

  7. With a little more background information on Roesen, I feel like analyzing this painting would be a lot easier! I completly agree with the fact that Roesen most likely used the eaten fruit compared with the whole fruit to show a lost part of his life. To show the world that something is missing and that his life wasnt complete. I found it very interesting that he would trade his works of art for beer and lodging.

  8. I think that how he set up the fruit for his still life paintings definitely was for a purpose and carefully planned so I agree with that. When I first looked at this painting, I thought that the fruit in the bowl that is higher up represented the higher, wealthy class and the fruit witht he half eaten watermelon, that is lower represented the lower, poorer class. However, when I looked closer, the fruit was more plentiful on the bottom so maybe the artist was trying to convey the message that even though the lower class is poorer, that they may still live a better, fuller life. The higher class may have better looking "fruit" and nicer things, but money can't buy you happiness and make you feel full. I'm not sure, just a thought.

  9. i agree with you, i think he is aiming his artwork towards a more wealthy community. the water drops sparkling like diamonds i think is something he did on purpose. i wonder how his artwork is so clean looking for him being drunk. he also did a good job makeing the fruit colors they almost look real.