Dine & Wine

The Scent of Orange in the Wintery Air: Paintings with Oranges

Magda Michalska 1 December 2022 min Read

What winter smells like to you? For me, it’s the scent of cinnamon-spiced gingerbread, mulled wine, and of course mandarins. My grandma used to make Christmas decorations by spiking oranges with cloves and turning them into pomander balls. Aaaah, what a wonderful smell! In order to bring out some winter memories, here comes a selection of paintings with oranges for this cold season.

Orange Babies

Paintings with oranges: Vincent van Gogh, A Child with Orange, 1890, private collection. Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

The child is Raoul Levert, the two-year-old son of a local carpenter at the Auberge Ravoux in the village of Auvers-sur-Oises, where Vincent van Gogh had been a lodger. He painted the boy during a short period of contentment before his death in July of the same year.

Paintings with oranges: Lilla Cabot Perry, Portrait of a Young Girl with an Orange, 1901, private collection. Artnet.

Lilla Cabot Perry lived in Japan with her husband between 1898 and 1901. There she had a chance to study Japanese art, such as fabrics and prints, in-depth, which allowed her to better comprehend the Impressionist fascination with it. While in Japan, she produced around 80 paintings.

Orange Peelers

Paintings with oranges: Mary Cassatt, Peasant Woman Peeling an Orange, c. 1875, private collection. Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

In 1874, Mary Cassatt moved to Paris where she opened her own studio. She criticized the French Salon and the conventional taste of their jury. Her fellow American painter, Emily Sartain, wrote of her: “she is entirely too slashing, snubs all modern art, disdains the Salon pictures of Cabanel, Bonnat, all the names we are used to revere.”

Orange Sellers

Paintings with oranges: Joseph Farquharson, The Orange Seller, 1893, Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.

Joseph Farquharson was born in Edinburgh and is most famous for painting Scottish landscapes and animals. He spent several summers in Paris where he studied painting and in 1885 he traveled to North Africa, an experience which most probably inspired this work.

Paintings with oranges: Joaquín Sorolla, Orange Seller, 1891, private collection. Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

In 1890, Sorolla moved to Madrid with his family, where he focused on painting large canvases with mythological, social, or orientalist themes, which were later exhibited around Europe and in the United States.

Paintings with oranges: Pierre-Auguste Cot, Pisan Girl with Basket of Oranges and Lemons, 1871, private collection. WikiArt.

Pierre-Auguste Cot, as you can probably judge yourselves, was an exponent of Academicism. Having studied under Alexandre Cabanel and William-Adolphe Bouguereau, he made a successful entry to the Salon in 1863. The 1870s was the decade of his growing popularity and portraiture was definitely his forte.

Paintings with oranges: Aleksander Gierymski, Jewish Woman Selling Oranges, 1881, National Museum in Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.

Aleksander Gierymski painted this poor woman in another painting, Jewess Selling Lemons. During World War II, the Nazis stole the version with oranges from the antique store it was in, and only in 2011 was the painting returned to Poland, having been purchased by the state from a private German owner.

Orange Nudes

Paintings with oranges: John French Sloan, Blond Nude with Orange, Blue Couch, 1925, private collection. PoulWebb.

John French Sloan was one of the founders of the 20th-century American art movement called Ashcan School (or the Ash Can School), whose main focus was the depiction of real life in New York, often its poor areas. According to scholars, Sloan was able to exceptionally capture the city’s “inexhaustible energy and life”.

Paintings with oranges: Henri Matisse, Nude with Oranges, 1951, private collection. Wikimedia Commons.

In 1951, Henri Matisse completed his last painting ever. From then on, cut-outs became his sole medium of expression, until his death in 1954.

Inspired? Go get some oranges! Peel them and enjoy this lovely sweet and sour taste in the long winter evenings.

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