Artist Chardin made use of different varieties of fruit within his still life paintings, typically going for readily available types such as peaches, plums and apricots. He would also consider their own tones of colour when deciding upon which to use, with brightness important when much of the rest of each scene would be fairly plain and understated. The table on which they are placed looks well used and its pattern is near identical to the wall behind, with both likely made of stone. The dominance of the pitcher actually makes this a slightly brighter artwork than most of his other still life pieces. The larger image below helps us to fully appreciate the details of this painting, including the stunning touches to the pitcher itself that features a floral pattern with extraordinary accuracy.

The use of perspective is not as confident as later in this artist's career and the slightly unstable positions of some of the fruit have led experts to give this an approximate date of 1728-1730. It has been exhibited a number of times across the US since the 1970s but there is not much available documentation about its location before that. It remains a part of the Phillips Collection in Washington DC and is a key element to their offerings from French art. The US continues to show a great interest in art from this continent, partly because of the historical and cultural connection between these two regions. The artist continued to use this bowl of plums in a number of other artworks.

During this period in his career, Chardin repeatedly used large white objects on the right hand side in order to allow light in from both sides. He could then add brightness to both sides of his round fruit, with an additional source of light normally arriving from the left hand side, from our perspective. The breaktaking details and textures inserted by this artist makes it feel like e can actually reach out and touch these different items. Some suggested that his imagination was behind some of these additions, but in reality he only felt able to produce such precision when the objects were physically in front of him.

A Bowl of Plums in Detail Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin