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  • R.J. Reynolds's Study

    Severin Roesen (circa 1816-1872)

    Flowers in a Glass Pitcher with Bird's Nest and Fruit, circa 1867

    Oil on canvas

    Gift of Barbara B. Millhouse, 1992.2.1

    German-born Severin Roesen would have been well acquainted with Dutch still life paintings of fruit and flowers, and he imported that tradition to America when he arrived in 1848. In Flowers in a Glass Pitcher with Bird’s Nest and Fruit, the artist imaginatively included blossoms that bloom in different seasons—spring tulips with summer hollyhocks, for example—to create the ideal combination of riotous color and texture. This large-scale painting, with its sumptuous proliferation of fruit and flowers, would have been ideal for the decoration of the dining rooms of newly wealthy Americans. Roesen may have intended this composition, however, to represent more than mere decoration; the eggs in the bird’s nest may allude to the nation’s rebirth following the Civil War.