The Frick Collection is an art museum in New York City, housing the art collection of industrialist Henry Clay Frick. I visited this fascinating place a few years ago when I was in NYC. Now, with the pandemic interrupting every aspect of our lives, the Frick, like other museums and places where people gather, is closed to the public but their presence on social media allows us to enjoy gorgeous pieces of art from our homes. In a May post on Instagram, the Frick talked about how still life painting invites us to “take a closer look at the things we encounter on a daily basis.” The post featured a 1730 oil painting by French painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin called “Still Life with Plums. The Frick challenged viewers to create their own still life by creating their own arrangement of common household items.
I was captivated by the still life and over the past few weeks I kept thinking that I would try recreate it myself. Yesterday, I saw white nectarines at the grocery store and knew they would have to substitute for the plums with a few mandarins thrown in. I should have read the description of the painting a little more carefully because what I thought were odd shaped baguettes were really squash. But the Dutch crunch tolls I used look similar. The wooden bowl is contemporary to Chardin, from my Grandmother’s family in Sweden from the early 1700’s and the table is an old growth redwood board circa 1880 salvaged from Sunset Line & Twine Co. in Petaluma, CA. The bottle is an unknown vintage of Tia Maria Liqueur that has probably been in my cupboard for more than 40 years. Getting the lighting right was a challenge and I never could get a shadow from the glass like in the painting. I added a little oil paint effect in Photoshop. You can view Chardin’s Still Life with Plums here. This is my take on the painting.