Still Life Painting

We visit an artist known as a ‘painter of fruits’. #RobertKell (1829-1902) was born in Woodbridge, Suffolk. Little is known of his artistic life and I have only seen a couple of landscapes which belie his talent. I picked up this painting a couple of weeks back. I took me some time to read the inscription which I display. I will admit that the information I have found on Robert Kell calls him a journeyman painter and decorator and a house painter. He did paint artistic works but the two I have seen make him a mediocre artist. The citation here (which took a while to decipher) is painted over top of the original paint and has partially disappeared. As well I have never seen any artist sign his work ‘Painted by’. If my reading is correct, the inscription reads ‘Painted By Robert Kell 1859. The date would mean this painting was created in 1859 – some 21 years before his earliest known exhibiting. The frame – although fine – is not the original in which this piece was mounted. The quality of this still life says to me that there was no reason Kell should not not have been very well known and a professional in his own right and not a house painter.I have recently been to The Ashmolean in Oxford and visited their still life gallery. To be truthful, the quality of this piece ranks it among pieces by Old Dutch masters like Kalf, de Heem, Claesz, Hullegarden, van Son, Heda and Davidsz. I believe it to be that good. Even so, I hope you enjoy looking at this artwork which might have been painted in 1859 or it might actually have been painted around a hundred years earlier.

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