Still-life with Grapes, 1826
oil on canvas
94.9 x 126.4 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 15684)
When he made this large painting, early in his career, Joseph Légaré was breaking new ground, for it is the first still life ever executed in Canada. He copied the central motif - the impressive cluster of grapes in the foreground - from a picture in his collection attributed to Michelangelo Pace, called Il Campidoglio. The artist has nevertheless set it against the backdrop of an imaginary landscape that opens onto a distant vista. This imbues the theme with additional significance: the work is in fact a tribute to Italian painting, which also influenced a number of other 19th-century Canadian artists.