Cultured Wednesday: Vallayer-Coster’s Still Life with Peaches

Anne Vallayer-Coster became famous when she was admitted to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris at the age of twenty-six.

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It’s peach time here, and so we would like to share a still life with peaches today.  This is the painting we chose:

still life with peaches
Anne Vallayer-Coster: Still Life With Vase, Peaches, Grapes, and Plums. 18th century

We think it is an outstanding still life with its color contrasts, the grape leaves and vines and the beautifully ornate vase on the right, not to mention the peaches that look about as delicious as the ones we picked up today taste!  Although we generally prefer hunting themed still lifes and this painter did not seem to have painted even one of those, Anne Vallayer-Coster painted many beautiful still lifes that we like, music themed, or one with a bust of Minerva and some weapons, or one which she called Attributes of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture.

Here is some information about the painter, a lady who was keenly aware of her unusual position as a female prominent painter in her time:

Anne Vallayer-Coster, born on 21 December 1744, was an 18th-century French painter best known for still lifes.  Her highly developed skills soon generated a great deal of attention from collectors and other artists although still lifes weren’t very popular at the time.

Her life was determinedly private, dignified, and hard-working, and Marie Antoinette‘s admiration of her paintings gained Anne and her husband in time the very highest ranks of the bourgeoisie, the noblesse de robe, meaning that the family was granted an inheritable state office that made them almost indistinguishable from the old nobility.  Despite all this, she managed to survive the French Revolution, but since the French monarchy was her primary patron, her reputation declined afterwards, although she never had to give up painting and eventually gave her now most famous still life (see below) to the restored King Louis XVIII.

Anne Vallayer-Coster died on 28 February 1818 at the age of seventy-three, having painted more than 120 still lifes, always with a distinctive coloristic brilliance, as can be seen in the one we picked which is by no means her most famous – that was her Still Life with Lobster (ca. 1781).

 

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