Severin Roesen, a Prussian-born American painter, best known for his voluminous still lifes of fruit and flowers, is now regarded as one of the finest figures in the history of that genre in America.
Amy Pastan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum says he is one of several Germans who fled the 1848 peasant uprisings in Europe and brought high standards of craftsmanship to America. His art was influenced by Dutch painting from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
Many dining rooms in collectors’ homes who appreciated his outstanding talent were adorned with his hyper-real still lifes. These images were seen as depicting the bounty of nature and the holiness of the New World. To create his elaborate signature, Roesen frequently used the tendrils of grape leaves.
He moved to America with his first wife, who shortly passed away. He then married Wilhelmine Ludwig and had three children together. The Columbus Museum of Art says Roesen provided for his family by selling his works of art to individual clients and the American Art Union and instructing still-life painting.
In 1857, Roesen relocated to Pennsylvania after leaving his family. He initially resided in Philadelphia before making his way to rural German-American settlements in Harrisburg, Huntingdon, and Williamsport, where he eventually made his home about 1863. He also presented artwork at the Baltimore Maryland Historical Society in 1858, the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts in 1863, and the Brooklyn Art Association in 1873.
The Columbus Museum of Art stated that the last dated work by Roesen, from 1872, marks the end of all documentation of his life and place of abode. The details of his later life and the time and location of his passing are still unknown.
Severin Roesen Paintings
Only roughly two dozen of the more than three hundred still life paintings by Roesen that have been cataloged are dated. Here are some of the most famous paintings:
Still, Life with Fruit – This painting, which Roesen completed three years after moving to Pennsylvania in 1855, exemplifies the qualities that helped him succeed in America. It showcased fruits spilling forth from wicker baskets.
Flower Still Life with Bird’s Nest– Painted in 1853, the magnificent tabletop arrangement reflects the mid-nineteenth-century American preference for images of natural richness. It is filled with blossoms from all seasons, including lilacs, poppies, daylilies, tulips, irises, roses, morning glories, and nasturtiums.
Still, Life with a Basket of Fruit– Saint Louis Art Museum says Severin Roesen created this painting as a feast for the eyes. It displays a variety of fruits.
Other well-known paintings are Fruit Holiday, Fruit and Wine Glass, and Fruit Still Life in a Landscape.
Some of the Museum’s Severin Roesen works can be viewed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Metropolitan of Art, Saint Louis Art Museum, and Philadelphia Museum of Art.