Severin Roesen (ca. 1815-1872) is a painter known for his abundant fruit and flower still lifes and is today recognized as one of the major American still-life painters of the mid-nineteenth century. Born in Cologne, in Germany, he emigrated to the United States in 1848.
While Roesen's paintings reveal a meticulous attention to detail in their precise arrangements and close brushwork, his subject matter, even down to specific motifs, did not change throughout his career. Sometimes he made near copies of paintings, but usually he merely rearranged and reassembled stock elements.
Numerous items in Fruit and Wine Glass, for example, also appear in other paintings. The footed desert plate full of strawberries is a common motif. The pilsner glass, sometimes accompanied by an open bottle of champagne, is interchangeable with a wine goblet filled with lemonade used elsewhere. The glass is nearly always placed at the lower left edge of the painting; a halved lemon often appears nearby. Branches full of grapes arranged from lower left to upper right provide the composition with a graceful S-curve and subtly lead the viewer's eye over the entire display. Here the composition is balanced by light and dark grapes at either side and filled in by scattered raspberries, cherries, peaches, apples, pears, and apricots. Many of these compositional elements, if not the items depicted, were derived from seventeenth-century Dutch still life paintings by such artists as Jan van Huysem.