This picture by Antoine Berjon is emblematic of the efforts of certain artists from Lyon, who used the flower motif. Influenced by the bouquets of Dutch and Flemish artists who developed the art of still life from the 17th century onward, the painter here displays his technical virtuosity and ability to imitate the elements of this exceptional bouquet. Berjon sought to create illusion by painting life-sized fruit and flowers to a greater extent than the northern masters did. Each component can be precisely identified. A little fly has settled on the melon, making the depiction extraordinarily realistic, even though tulips and poppies do not bloom at the same time of year. Painted during the last few months of Berjon’s stay in Paris, this monumental still life was exhibited at the 1810 Salon exhibition. The painter had just been recruited to teach flower painting in Lyon. In the early 19th century, the city—eager to revive its silk industry—was effectively aiming to provide models for its future designers, the students of its School of Fine Arts.


  • Title: Fruit and Flowers in a Willow Basket
  • Creator: Antoine Berjon
  • Physical Location: Lyon, France
  • Physical Dimensions: H. 107 ; L. 87 cm
  • Provenance: Acquired in 1811
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Image © Lyon MBA - Photo Alain Basset

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