Antoine Chazal, attr.
(1793 - Paris - 1854)
Oil on canvas, 32 x 38 cm
Private collection, France;
Private collection, New York.
Painting in life-size on a relatively small canvas, Antoine Chazal has succeeded in depicting a pumpkin in an arresting and unconventional way. The composition is carefully composed. The pumpkin is placed in a natural setting next to a very small single daisy. The daisy’s fragility emphasizes the robustness and the size of the pumpkin.
A warm glow of light falls on the pumpkin, creating deep shadows that enhance the plasticity of its skin. The canvas has not been relined and the heavy impasto of the brushwork strengthens the impression of three-dimensionality. Chazal’s teachers, Gerard van Spaendonck and Jan van Os, both used this type of warm, direct light. It was very popular among French painters around 1800. The development of French still-life painting in the nineteenth century drew on the still-life traditions of Dutch and Flemish Old Master painting – numerous examples of which continued to be accessible in French collections after the Revolution. For his motifs, Chazal looked to the Spanish still-life tradition, in particular to the highly realistic, almost palpable still lifes of Luis Egidio Meléndez (1716-80).
Antoine Chazal was a pupil of the celebrated flower painter Gerard van Spaendonck, but he also painted still lifes of vegetables. He worked as an engraver and was a regular contributor to the Paris Salon from 1822 to 1853. In 1838, he was decorated as a chevalier of the Légion d’honneur, a distinction which brought him wide public recognition.
- Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier, Etienne Grafe and Peter Mitchell, French Flower Painters of the 19th Century: A Dictionary, New York 1989.
- Philippe Nusbaumer and Pierre Rosenberg, Antoine Chazal 1793-1854: Vie et oeuvre, Le Pecq-sur-Seine 2012.