Results 1 2995
2306 Previous Next

Still Life: Vegetables, Fish, and Radishes
Additional Views Explore Object
Creative Commons License

Still Life: Vegetables, Fish, and Radishes

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description Léon Bonvin was born in Vaugirard, just outside Paris in 1834. Despite displaying great talent in the medium of watercolor he was largely unrecognized by his contemporaries. In 1866 he hanged himself at the age of 32, apparently due to financial difficulties. Working at his family's bar or "cabaret," he sketched and painted watercolors only in his spare moments, yet in the seven year period between 1859 and his death he created numerous exquisite still lifes of flowers and fruits, and subtle landscapes capturing fleeting atmospheric effects. There is evidence that, despite his rural home, Bonvin did have knowledge of the art world in Paris. His half-brother was the better known artist, François Bonvin. In addition Bonvin's still lifes show the influence of Jean-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779), whose work was undergoing a revival in the 1850s and 60s. At the time Bonvin was working several of Chardin's paintings could be found among the new acquisitions at the Louvre Museum. Bonvin might have seen his work there or in reproduction. During the 19th century an appreciation of Bonvin's work was confined to a small circle of connoisseurs and collectors, most prominent among them William T. Walters, father of Henry Walters, founder of the Walters Art Museum. For much of the 19th century William displayed and stored his watercolors in a deluxe leather-bound album with a specially commissioned frontispiece and tailpiece by the renowned flower painter of the Lyon school, Jean-Marie Reignier (see WAM 37.1501 and 37. 1531). William's collection of Bonvin's work was acquired between 1862 and 1891, and eventually comprised 56 watercolors and one, rare oil; today, this is the largest collection of Bonvin's work in existence.
Date Description Narrative
6/20/1979Examinationexamined for loan
9/02/1980Examinationexamined for exhibition
1/01/2002Treatmentexamined for loan; cleaned; other
  • The Drawings and Watercolors of Léon Bonvin. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1980-1981.
  • A Connoisseur's Portfolio: Nineteenth-century Drawings and Watercolors in the Walters Art Gallery. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1983.
  • The Essence of Line: French Drawings from Ingres to Degas. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma. 2005-2006.
  • Near Paris: The Watercolors of Leon Bonvin. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2012.
Provenance William T. Walters, Baltimore, by purchase [George A. Lucas as agent] 1864 (?) [1]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1894, by inheritance; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest. [1] possibly one of seven purchased by Lucas in 1864 (see Randall, Diaries of George A. Lucas, vol. 2, p. 172 and p. 174).
Inscriptions [Signature and date] In ink, lower left: Léon Bonvin 1864; [Number] In graphite at center, verso: G4 and 40; [Number] In graphite at lower left corner, verso: 30; [Number] Erased traces of graphite, on lower right edge, to the right of center, verso: 311
Credit Acquired by William T. Walters, 1864 (?)

Download Image Add to Collection Creative Commons License

watercolor with gum heightening, iron gall ink and pen, over graphite underdrawing on slightly textured, moderately-thick, beige wove paper
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 9 5/8 × W: 7 5/16 in. (24.4 × 18.6 cm) Framed H: 21 1/4 × W: 16 1/4 × D: 1 5/16 in. (53.98 × 41.28 × 3.33 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


    Thumbnail: Still Life: Vegetables, Fish, and Radishes Thumbnail: Still Life: Vegetables, Fish, and Radishes
    Zoom Out Zoom In Back to Details  
    Full Size: Still Life: Vegetables, Fish, and Radishes