Grapes, Apple and Sliced Plum
One of America's pre-eminent still life artists, Severin Roesen nonetheless led a life steeped in mystery. While he was originally from Germany, little is known of him until he arrived in America in 1847. Abandoning the neo-classical restraint of American still-life painters like Raphaelle Peale, Roesen created a new, exuberant style that echoed the Baroque Dutch and German painters who inspired him. His crisply detailed and brilliantly colored compositions are some of the most complex paintings in the genre. Wealthy collectors put them on prominent display in their dining rooms to signify their riches, taste, and status. Unfortunately, Roesen's personal life seems to have been less successful; contemporary accounts suggest he abandoned his wife and children and descended into alcoholism. He disappeared from public records in 1872 and nothing is known of the rest of his life or his death.