Sarah Miriam was one of the first professional female artists in the United States. Active in Baltimore and Philadelphia during the 1820s, she gained fame for her portraits and still lifes. This painting, one of Peale’s greatest works, portrays fruit in an ideal, unblemished state. No bruises or dents mar the melons, peaches, or grapes assembled on the table; rather, each is rendered as an exquisite, glistening jewel.
The Peale family occupies a unique position in the history of American art. Under the supervision and tutelage of painter, naturalist, and museum proprietor Charles Willson Peale, 10 members of the family became prolific, well-regarded painters. Sarah Miriam trained with her father, James Peale, a miniaturist and still-life painter. At moments, she shared studio space with several of her well-regarded cousins, including artist and mechanic Raphaelle Peale, botanist-painter Reubens Peale, portraitist Rembrandt Peale, and acclaimed miniaturist Angelica Kauffmann Peale Robinson.