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Philippe Rousseau, Still Life with Oysters

Key facts
Full title Still Life with Oysters
Artist Philippe Rousseau
Artist dates 1816 - 1887
Date made probably 1875-87
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 42.2 × 62.2 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by Lt.-Col. R.H. Whitwell to the Tate Gallery, 1923; transferred, 1956
Inventory number NG3829
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Still Life with Oysters
Philippe Rousseau

A collection of oysters is grouped around a glass of wine. A few closed mussels have been added at the left, with a single open shell depicted at the right, its shades of blue and white contrasting with the overall earthy tonality. Behind the oysters stands a squat bottle, perhaps containing olive oil.

This group of objects reflects the influence of still lifes by the eighteenth-century artist Chardin. There was a revival of interest in Chardin’s work in the nineteenth century, and the still lifes became very important to Rousseau. All the objects reflect light, from the glass of wine to the glistening oysters. A knife rests on the glass, delicate touches of white paint highlighting the silver band around its handle and the sliver of light caught by the blade. This is considered a late work, and may be the painting entitled A Still Life with Oysters which was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1876.

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