Nuthatches and Walnuts

January 25, 2010

Nuthatches and Walnuts

  • Oil on Masonite
  • 36″ x 12″
  • In a private collection

The painting began as an exercise in trompe l’oeil, deceiving the eye. An early American painter, Raphaelle Peale, came from a family of gifted realistic painters. I’ve always enjoyed one of his paintings,  “Venus Rising from the Sea, a Deception” at the Nelson Museum of Art in Kansas City. Peale’s painting draws on an ancient Roman story of two Greek painters in competition to see who was the better. Zeuxis painted grapes that attracted birds to his canvas. He turned to Parrhasios and asked him to remove the cloth from his painting. The painting of the drapery was so realistic, it had fooled Zeuxis.

The nuthatches are playful. The top one has knocked a walnut off the table and leans over to watch, hanging onto one of the pears. The low light casts long shadows and illuminates the clouds.

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