Charles Willson Peale’s eldest son, Raphaelle, was a gifted and inventive artist whose work shaped the tradition of American still-life painting. His ingeniously balanced compositions typically present natural and human-made objects on tabletops against subdued backgrounds and are known for their dramatic light and sensitive rendering of shapes, colors, and textures.
Here the composition is animated by light passing over soft, ripe peaches covered with a fine, nearly transparent handkerchief. The fabric’s silky ribbonlike edge directs the viewer’s attention through the composition. A large wasp, near the center, echoes similar inclusions in European still-life pictures. But Raphaelle’s addition of a tiny, less immediately visible fly, to its left, asserts both his personal whimsy and his well-known ability to create illusionistic pictures designed to "fool the eye" of a viewer, who might attempt to brush the insect away.
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