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John F. Francis
Luncheon Still Life
about 1860
25 1/2 x 30 3/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum

What an unusual luncheon—oyster crackers, grapes, oranges, walnuts, and almonds, with wine and water! Artfully arranged in an open-air setting, this opulent buffet reveals the artist's delight in illusionism; the transparent tumbler overlaps the matte pitcher and the straw basket peeks through the wine bottle. Although fanciful, this elaborate, well-ordered meal alludes to mid-century American prosperity and optimism.