Urgent Museum Notice

Bowl of Lemons and Oranges on a Box of Wood Shavings and Pomegranates

Close up of Bowl of Lemons and Oranges on a Box of Wood Shavings and Pomegranates

A vessel mounded with 5 oranges, a lemon, and greenery sits atop an oval, wooden box resting on a wooden plank. In the foreground, two pomegranates, one of which has split open and dropped three seeds, balance near the plank’s edge. Droplets of water dot the fruit and the table.

Louise Moillon, Bowl of Lemons and Oranges on a Box of Wood Shavings and Pomegranates, ca. 1630s; Oil on panel, 15 3/4 x 24 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Bowl of Lemons and Oranges on a Box of Wood Shavings and Pomegranates
Louise Moillon

Louise Moillon is best known for images such as Bowl of Lemons and Oranges on a Box of Wood Shavings and Pomegranates. The composition’s elegant simplicity complements her technique—she masterfully rendered the distinctive textures of the fruit, leaves, wooden box, and water droplets, giving the painting an almost photographic quality.

This method of illusionism, known as trompe l’oeil (fool the eye), was a highly prized quality in 17th-century painting. Moillon used devices such as the open pomegranate, which hangs slightly over the ledge, to create the impression that the space in the painting is shared with the viewer. The tactile quality of the lemons and oranges reinforces this illusion, as does the extension of the ledge to the edges of the picture plane, a common motif in Moillon’s still lifes.

Based on similar, signed paintings, this piece was probably executed by Moillon in the 1630s.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Louise Moillon
  • Title

    Bowl of Lemons and Oranges on a Box of Wood Shavings and Pomegranates
  • Date

    ca. 1630s
  • Medium

    Oil on panel
  • Dimensions

    15 3/4 x 24 1/2 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
  • Photo Credit

    Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display

    No