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Did you know we have more than 600 artworks that contain food? You can browse more than 150 works and download your favorites for free.

Feast your eyes on some of our favorite food paintings. From Renaissance banquets to 20th century toast, there are more than enough culinary delights for you to enjoy online and in person.

We look slightly down onto five plates, bowls, and dishes filled with oysters, raisins, prunes, figs, and sweets along with a wine glass and decanter, a stack of round, wooden boxes, and two seashells arrayed on a wooden tabletop against a dark background in this horizontal still life painting. Closest to us to our left, eleven glistening oysters on the halfshell are arranged on a round, iron-gray dish. Also close to us, to our right, a white porcelain bowl with a wide, flaring lip is painted with blue flowers, and it is piled with breads, rolls, and pastries. Two shells sit near that bowl: one shimmering, spiraling, ivory-white shell with brown marks sits to our left and an elongated, white shell with a ruffle along its length sits in the lower right corner of the panel. Between and behind these two dishes is a vessel with a pedestal foot and a wide, shallow bowl, filled with white almonds and rods that have been covered with white sugar. In the back left, a dark gray bowl holds raisins and other dried fruit along with an object that could be a slice of bread or cheese. Opposite it, a similar dish holds brown figs that more closely resemble chestnuts. To the back right, the lid of one of the three round, shallow boxes stacked along the right edge of the composition leans against the pile. The inner lid is covered with quince paste, which resembles apricot preserves. One glass goblet with a wide bowl is nearly filled with amber-colored liquid in the back left corner, beyond the dried fruit. A glass decanter, also filled with gold-colored wine, sits to our left of the pedestal-footed vessel holding the sugared sweets, at the center of the composition. The still life is brightly lit from our left.

Osias Beert the Elder, Dishes with Oysters, Fruit, and Wine, c. 1620/1625, oil on panel, download image

1. Dishes with Oysters, Fruit, and Wine

On view: West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 50B

Flemish painter Osias Beert filled this tabletop still life with detailed objects and expensive delicacies. The artist celebrates a world of abundance and beauty in a style that shows off his expert use of texture and realistic detail.


A basket holding a pile of several kinds of fruit and two blue and white porcelain plates nearly fills this horizontal still life painting. More fruit is scattered around the smoke-gray ledge on which the basket sits, and the background is purple-tinged gray. The basket sits near the back edge of the ledge, and it has ribbed sides so pieces of round fruit, perhaps apples, are visible inside. Green, red, and purple grapes, green and orange grape leaves, apples, plums, apricots, an orange, and a quince are piled between the two blue-painted plates, which are propped in the basket at an angle to hold the fruit like cupped hands. More fruit, including plums, quince, cherries, and medlars, cover most of the ledge around the basket. The scene is lit from our left so the fruit casts shadows to our right. The artist signed the painting near the lower right corner, “B. vander. ast.”

Balthasar van der Ast, Basket of Fruits, c. 1622, oil on panel, download image

2. Basket of Fruits

On view: West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 50B

Dutch artist Balthasar van der Ast painted soft outlines, used muted colors, and selectively highlighted the centers of his still lifes. He reinforced the dramatic effect by bringing objects in the painting close to the viewer and by reducing the space between them.


On a tabletop spread with an ivory-white cloth, plates, and white porcelain bowls containing sweets, fruit, olives, and a cooked fowl are arranged around the largest platter, which holds the head, wings, and tail of a peacock stuck into a tall, baked pie, in this horizontal still life painting. The front, left corner of the table is near the lower left corner of the painting, so the tabletop extends off the right side of the composition. The white tablecloth lies over a second cloth underneath, which is only visible along the right edge. The cloth underneath has a leafy, geometric pattern in burgundy red against a lighter, rose-red background. The peacock pie is set near the back of the table, to our right, so it fills the upper right quadrant of the composition. The bird holds a pink rose in its beak. In front of it, near the lower right corner of the painting, a white porcelain bowl painted with teal-green floral and geometric designs holds about ten pieces of pale yellow and blush-red fruit. A pewter plate next to it, to our left, holds dried fruit and baked, stick-like sweets, some covered with white sugar. A pile of salt sits atop a gold, square vessel between the sweets and the peacock pie. Another blue-patterned, white porcelain bowl filled with green olives sits near the back of the table next to a lidded, pewter pitcher with a long spout. Other pewter plates hold a baked fowl, like a small chicken, and, closest to us, a partially cut lemon with its peel curling off the plate. Nuts, more fruit, an ivory-handled knife, bread rolls, and flat biscuits sit on the white cloth among the plates. One glass with a wide stem covered in nubs and a flaring bowl sits near the back, left corner of the table, filled with a pale yellow liquid. An empty glass lies with the upper rim on another pewter plate, to our left. Also on the plate is a bunched up white napkin and a leather case for the knife. The background behind the still life is brown.

Pieter Claesz, Still Life with Peacock Pie, 1627, oil on panel, download image

3. Still Life with Peacock Pie

On view: West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 50

This still life by Dutch painter Pieter Claesz is more than four feet across. When you look at the painting, the life-size objects become part of your space.

Watch: 'Have you ever cooked a peacock?' with chefs Carla Hall and Chris Curtis


A dish of about two dozen figs, a crusty loaf of bread, a tall, black flask, and two wooden vessels are closely gathered on a wooden table or ledge in this vertical still life painting. At the front right, the figs are either deep purple or pale green. The shallow, pale lavender-gray dish in which they are piled has a narrow, scalloped edge. The round loaf of golden-brown bread, with its split top, sits behind and to our left of the figs. In the lower left corner, next to the figs and closest to us, the handle of a knife projects toward us. Its pewter-colored blade angles back away from us. Beyond the bread is a wide-bellied, black, long-necked bottle with a cork. White reflections of windows out of our view to our left glint on the shiny, inky surface. Next to it, to our right, a small wooden barrel is about the size of an American football. At the back right, the cylindrical neck of a copper vessel pokes out of a pile of pale ice shavings, all within a keg-like bucket. The still life is set against a dark brown background.

Luis Meléndez, Still Life with Figs and Bread, c. 1770, oil on canvas, download image

4. Still Life with Figs and Bread

On view: West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 34

Spanish painter Luis Meléndez captured everyday objects in great detail. Notice the effects of color; the subtle changes in texture; and his marvelous use of light, which usually come from the left in his paintings.


This vertical still life painting shows a display of dead pheasants, slabs of meat and ribs, and fruit, all arranged on a tabletop close to us. Five golden pears sit on a wooden stool in front of the table, to the left of center. More than a dozen pheasants are arranged belly up on a gold platter with pedestal foot on the table to our left. Their plucked bodies are covered with a layer of white, textured lard while the feathers on their heads and neck are left intact. Two of the three fully plucked birds stacked on a tousled white tablecloth to our right are wrapped in what looks like paper at first glance but turns out to be thin slices of meat, and tied with twine. A woven wicker basket with at least eight oranges rests on the opening of a tall copper cooking pot to our right, behind the plucked birds. A rack of ribs and slab of meat with some entrails hang from hooks in a horizontal rail that is cropped by the top edge of the painting. The palette is dominated with warm browns, ochre, and white, with touches of green, orange, and blue.

Alexandre-François Desportes, Still Life with Dressed Game, Meat, and Fruit, 1734, oil on canvas, download image

5. Still Life with Dressed Game, Meat, and Fruit

On view: West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 53

This "buffet" painting by French artist Alexandre-François Desportes features exquisite cutlery (the bone-handled knife placed on the edge of the wooden table), kitchenware (the copper pot under a basket of oranges), and fine china (the large platter holding the pheasants).


A shallow bowl filled with oranges, grapes, and nuts is surrounded by a short, flaring glass, a glass decanter, a lemon, and more nuts arranged along a wooden tabletop in this horizontal still life painting. The objects nearly fill the composition, and the table extends off both sides. The three oranges are pale, with the one at the center nearly yellow, and a stem of dark green leaves lies across the top. A bunch of shriveled grapes, like raisins still on the vine, lies across the almonds and other nuts, all in their shells, in the bowl. The outside of the bowl is white, and it has a gently scalloped rim. A lemon sits to our left of the bowl of fruit, and behind it, the glass decanter has a teardrop-shaped glass stopper. Light coming from the front and our left makes the peachy liquid glow. To our right are four whole walnuts in their shells, with a few grapes hanging from the bowl. Behind the walnuts, a long stemmed, flaring, clear glass is almost filled with the peach-colored liquid. The background is deeply shadowed at the upper left, lightening slightly to elephant gray toward the lower right. The artist inscribed the painting as if he had written his name, date, and location on the front edge of the table, near the lower right corner: “Raphaelle Peale Aug: 5th 1814 Philad:”

Raphaelle Peale, A Dessert, 1814, oil on wood, download image

6. A Dessert

On view: West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 69A

Raphaelle Peale was considered the first professional still life painter in the United States. This painting showcases Peale’s technical skill as well as the classic order and serene beauty of his works.


About a dozen rust-orange and golden yellow apples and peaches are arranged on a white plate next to white and floral-patterned cloths nestled around a white pitcher and bowl, all on a wood tabletop that tilts toward us in this nearly square still life painting. A curtain patterned with royal blue, olive green, and beige falls along or near the back wall of the room and rests on the table to our left. The white pitcher is painted loosely with the suggestion of harvest-gold and pale lilac-purple flowers, and it sits amid the pooling folds of the curtain to our left. The white tablecloth is bunched under and next to it to our right, at the middle of the composition. The fruit is arranged on and around a white plate next to the tablecloth. A tall bowl with fluted sides and a ruffled, scalloped rim sits behind the fruit, near the right edge of the table. The curving skirt of the table reaches nearly to the bottom edge of the canvas. All the objects in the painting are outlined with dark blue and the shadows are painted with patches of spruce and cobalt blue.

Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples and Peaches, c. 1905, oil on canvas, download image

7. Still Life with Apples and Peaches

Not on view

“The eye must grasp, bring things together,” Paul Cézanne once said. “The brain will give it shape.” An artist creates the world they paint, and each object in a still life, as well as its placement, is the result of a careful decision.


Several pieces of fruit, a bunch of green grapes, a stem of raisins, and several types of nuts in their shells are piled on a putty-brown tabletop or ledge with rounded corners against a dark background in this horizontal still life painting. The food is brightly lit from the front, and we look slightly down onto the table. There are two round red apples and two pieces of small yellow fruit, perhaps quinces, flanking a golden yellow pear at the back center. The bunch of grapes drapes over the fruit to our right and the raisins lie between the apples. Thirteen walnuts, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and perhaps a brazil nut are scattered in a loose band in front of the fruit. The surface on which the still life sits becomes swallowed in shadow behind the fruit, and blends into the dark brown background. The artist signed and dated the work in dark paint in the lower right corner, almost lost in shadow under the ledge: “R.S. Duncanson 1848.”

Robert Seldon Duncanson, Still Life with Fruit and Nuts, 1848, oil on board, download image

8. Still Life with Fruit and Nuts

On view: West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 69A

This painting is part of a small group of still lifes by African American artist Robert Seldon Duncanson. During his lifetime, Duncanson was best known for pastoral landscapes of American, Canadian, and European scenery. 


Walt Kuhn, Green Apples and Scoop, 1939, oil on canvas

9. Green Apples and Scoop

Not on view

Although American painter Walt Kuhn is most famous for depicting circus workers, still lifes were also an important part of his work. This is one of two major paintings he completed during the summer of 1939 in Ogunquit, Maine.


A silver butter knife rests across a slice of white bread so its rounded blade is covered with a layer of the vivid yellow spread, presumably butter, that covers the bread in this nearly square painting. The handle of the knife angles from near the bottom center of the composition up toward the top right corner. The handle is cropped by the bottom edge of the painting just below where it meets the blade. The bread on which it rests is also angled toward the upper right corner, so its curved top is cropped. Three more unbuttered slices of bread splay out like a fan beneath it, to our left and into the upper left corner. The bread is eggshell white with soft gray pockmarks to capture the air pockets in the crumb, and each slice has a deep, honey-brown crust. The glossy yellow butter glistens where the light catches it. The area around the slices of bread is the same vibrant yellow of the butter, along the bottom of the canvas.

James Rosenquist, White Bread, 1964, oil on canvas

10. White Bread

On view: East Building, Upper Level - Gallery 407D

James Rosenquist was a major American painter associated with pop art. But he never fit comfortably into the pop category—as this painting demonstrates. He generally avoided brand names and logos, and he approached commercial illustration even more closely than other pop artists.


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Alan Manton
Digital Producer

November 23, 2022