Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Splash of Citrus with George Spencer

A little bit sweet, a little bit sour, but always refreshing, we're talking about painting citrus today with the works of artist George Spencer.

Spencer currently has a featured body of work on at the gallery that showcases citrus in all it's wonderful stages and forms for admiration and consumption. See the entire show by clicking HERE.

George Spencer, Peeled Lemon #7, 5"x7", Oil on Board

But first, a little history... Citrus cultivation began in Asia over 2500 years ago and references of lemons in art began popping up in China during the late Ming Dynasty. After that citrus fruit spread into the Middle East and the Mediterranean, and their representation in art has been a mainstay ever since. Wallpaintings of lemon trees were even found in the buried houses of Pompeii in Ancient Rome.

Lemon tree in Roman wallpainting from Pompeii, 1st c. CE, House of the Fruit Orchard

In the 1600's the lushness of citrus fruit in art comes to fruition, with the masters of still life, the Flemish painters. They used citrus fruit as a representation of opulence and wealth in their works.

Jacob van Hulsdonck, Still Life with Lemons, Oranges, and a Pomegranate, 41.9 × 49.5 cm, 1620-1640CE

In the 19th and 20th century as still life painting evolved, artists like Cezanne and Frida Kahlo painted still lifes of citrus fruit that made the subject of their works feel alive and intimate, almost as though they were painting portraits.

Paul Cezanne, Still Life with a Curtain, Oil on Canvas, 55x74.5 cm, 1895

Frida Kahlo, Still Life with Parrot and Fruit, 25.4x29.7cm, Oil on Canvas, 1951

Today citrus fruit is a main stay in western culture. Once considered exotic, citrus fruit was a special treat you'd get around the Christmas holidays.

George Spencer, Orange and Lime, 6"x6", Oil on Board

Nowadays orange juice is mainstay at the breakfast table and lemon meringue and key lime pie are diner staples.

George Spencer, Vase and Oranges on Case, 8"x10", Oil on Board

So many of the qualities mentioned above artist George Spencer is able to evoke in his work. His pieces feature the lushness of the Dutch painters, along with the vibrancy and intimacy of the French impressionists.

George Spener, Gin and Tonic, 6"x6", Oil on Board

Not only that, but Spencer captures the contemporary side of citrus fruit. Honestly can you imagine having a gin and tonic out on a patio without a splash of lime? I think not.

George Spencer, Tea with Lemon, 5"x7", Oil on Board

Or a cup of tea without a side of lemon? Good heavens no.

George Spencer, Teapot, Lemons and Knife, 11"x14", Oil on Board

Stop by today to see Spencer's citrus feature, they're a real treat for the eyes (and the stomach)!