MORRIS MUSEUM OF ART PERMANENT COLLECTION

"Still Life" by Thomas Wightman

Thomas Wightman (1811–1888)
Still Life
1861
Oil on canvas
25 x 29¾ inches
Museum purchase; 1999.009

The bright, warm color of the watermelon in Thomas Wightman's Still Life dominates this display of luscious fruit. Although the watermelon seems delicious and inviting, there is an ominous air in the visible gash in the flesh of the fruit. A cantaloupe lies in front of the watermelon. It is missing a slice as well, which lies beside it. Behind the watermelon, the grape leaves, which seem too large for grapes beside them, are decaying. The entire scene refers to the fragility of life—a long standing reference in the centuries-old tradition of still life painting.