Chardin’s still lives always have a unique luscious quality about them, as if he truly loves the objects and food that he is painting. His Basket of Wild Strawberries is no exception, as the mountain of red fruit is almost dripping with sensuality. Soft, caressing brushstrokes are illuminated by a warm, golden glow, reflected on a single peach. A little bit of juice falls near the two white peonies, a slight touch that makes the fruit all the more palpable, bringing to mind hot, summer days of messy strawberry eating.
Although Chardin encapsulates all senses of the luxurious side of the strawberry experience, it is worth mentioning its depiction in medieval art, for it is no less appreciative. Monks spent their days producing immaculate illuminated manuscripts, while cultivating their monastery gardens. They included the strawberry in their art, especially in miniatures, especially when associated with the Virgin Mary. Their beauty as well as their medicinal value (the entire plant was used, and the leaves were particularly good in tea) must have prompted them to associate it with all-ecompassing perfection, salvation, nobility, and modesty.
Adriaen Coorte, however, paints from from the perspective of the strawberry in his Still Life with Strawberries, reminding me of long afternoons spent picking and eating wild strawberries, until one is sick of the taste. There is something poetic about the curved, green leaves against the seeded texture of the small round fruits, some with and some without their stems, with a few sides still left to ripen. The one white flower inexplicably completes and uplifts the entire painting. His is much like Vermeer in the sense that his unpretentious and, therefore, timeless way of painting leaves the viewer in quiet appreciation.
Strawberries by Adrian Coorte and Chardin • Chocolate Covered Strawberries