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A Fruit PieceEnlarge image

A Fruit Piece, before June 1845

William Henry Fox Talbot
British, 1800 - 1877
salted paper print
18.4 x 22.6 cm; image: 16.5 x 19.8 cm
Purchased 1994
National Gallery of Canada (no. 37358)

two baskets of fruit including pineapple
The Scottish tartan that covers the table beneath the still life appears in another photograph, titled "Flowers on a Check Table Cloth", and may allude to Talbot's interest in Scotland. Talbot's careful alignment of the white stripe of the tartan along the edge of the table gives a sense of depth to the photograph and separates the dark areas of the tablecloth from the background. This attention to the aesthetic properties of his photographs shows that Talbot's intentions in making photographs were as much artistic as they were scientific. The velvety background in "A Fruit Piece" is seldom seen in salted paper prints of this period. It has been proposed that the inclusion of the pineapple in "A Fruit Piece" is a reference to Talbot's interest in botany. It may have been a pineapple grown in his own greenhouse. Talbot's mother, Lady Fielding, sent this image (or one of two other variants) to the Duke of Devonshire in the summer of 1845, stating, "I think that the Pine Apple will be approved of by Mr Paxton, who will pronounce it a true New Providence." A status symbol in the nineteenth century, the pineapple was often given as a gift to impress friends or relatives.

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