Active 1848-1872 Painter
Severin Roesen (circa 1816-1872) was one of many artists who fled Europe in the late 1840s for America. Due to the civil unrest in his native Germany, Roesen immigrated to New York in 1848. Little is known about his artistic training but it is surmised that he most likely was a decorative painter on porcelain. After working in New York for a decade, Roesen left to eventually settle in the small Pennsylvania lumber town of Williamsport where he bartered his work for room and board. His still lifes are clearly derived from the European tradition yet are evocative of the natural bounty offered by the New World where they were well received by the growing mercantile class. Roesen's style is clearly evident in Still Life with Fruit, a large work showing his mastery of technique and composition. Using a brilliant palette, Roesen paid close attention to detail in each piece of fruit, achieving a highly finished paint surface with little evidence of the artist's hand. The footed dish of strawberries is carved with flowers, a reference to Roesen's other still life subject. The artist's work typifies the Victorian esthetic of horror vaccui which called for an almost overwhelming proliferation of objects arranged in various containers and laid directly on the marble ledges. A prolific artist, Roesen was known to work on several canvases at once in order to enhance production. The fact that he did not paint from life assisted this process. He and his generation of artists are credited with reestablishing an interest in still life painting in this country.