White grapes? Check.
Red grapes? Check.
Peeled lemon? Yep.
More flowers than a bouquet offered by an apologetic husband the day after he forgets an anniversary? Got those, too.
A bird’s nest with three tiny eggs? Wait a minute. A bird’s nest?!?
The next time you visit the American Collections in the Museum’s Lower Level, take a look closely at Severin Roesen’s monumental still life of around 1852. It’s full of all of the objects listed above, from the expected to the unexpected.
And it’s all part of a very elaborate tradition of painting—with unexpected twists—that served this nineteenth-century painter very, very well.