Still life paintings can reveal much about an artist's technique.
During the 18th and early 19th centuries the genre of still life occupied a lowly position in the hierarchy of painting in France.
Artists looking to find fame, fortune and official acclaim chose to concentrate on history painting. It was inspired by mythology, religion and literature. Or they concentrated on portraiture or landscape.
Few major artists of the early 19th century chose to tackle still life.
From the 1860s, artists like Courbet, Cézanne and Fantin-Latour braved popular opinion and helped restore still life to a position of respect.
Their paintings are simple and joyous celebrations of fruit and flowers.