Still life with oysters (1876; Paris, France) by Paul Gauguin

Still life with oysters - Paul Gauguin - 1876; Paris, France

Artwork Information

TitleStill life with oysters
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1876; Paris, France
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationVirginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, US

About Still life with oysters

“Still Life with Oysters” is an oil on canvas artwork created by Paul Gauguin in 1876 in Paris, France. This piece is identified with the Impressionist movement and falls under the genre of still life. It is currently housed in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, located in Richmond, VA, United States.

The artwork depicts a richly laid table scene with a variety of elements that draw the viewer’s eye. At the forefront, there is a tray filled with oysters, which have been rendered with vigorous brushstrokes that impart a sense of texture and immediacy. A dark bottle and a glass sit to the right of the oysters, accompanied by a bright yellow lemon, sliced open, and a small butterknife, suggesting the preparation or aftermath of a meal.

To the right, a roasted fowl lies supine, adding to the indulgent display of food. A darker backdrop provides a stark contrast that makes the still life arrangement pop from the canvas. On the further right, another element of the composition is a fruit bowl, heaped with apples and grapes, its contents spilling slightly over the edge, suggesting abundance.

The entire scene is set upon a white cloth that drapes over the table’s edge, contributing to the textural contrast and visual interest. Gauguin’s work has captured both the immediacy of a moment of gastronomic enjoyment as well as the timeless tradition of the still life genre, lending the painting a sense of universal appeal. His use of light, shadow, and color epitomizes the impressionist fascination with capturing the transient effects of light and the essence of the subject matter.

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