Write Around PAM: Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer

Image Description: Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer, Antoine Monnoyer. “Still Life with Flowers, Fruits, a Parrot and a Monkey.” 1690/1699. Oil on canvas. 43 ⅜ “ and 59 ⅛”. Large painting with a dark background and brightly colored flowers with a thick gold frame with ornate filigree. A dark blue sky filled with a thin layer of flat clouds fills the background. Rolling hills can be seen in the distance with sunlight illuminating low clouds behind them. A dark tree trunk raises up behind a large plant with layers of leaves that are green at the tips and purple at the base. A tiny monkey hides in the darkness at the base of the plant. Only its head is visible. The monkey has black fur, a dark brown face, and small teeth. It looks towards the middle of the painting with its mouth gently open, teeth visible. To the right of the monkey is a large pile of fruit. Two large clusters of grapes are stacked high. Those on top are oval shaped, with a darker blue and purple color. The smaller grapes are round and a lighter blue color with purple accents. The grapes reflect the light source that seems to be illuminating the middle of the painting. Under the grapes are five dark blue oval plums, still on the branch with small dark green leaves. Two sets of three peaches are set below and above the grapes on the right. The peaches are cream and orange and blend into the dark shadows. Above the fruit is a large plant with pinnate leaves each with eight, serrated leaflets. Above the leaves, long thin green stems reach out and curve downward with eleven large blossoms with white centers and feathered red petals. Light reflects off the white portion of the petals creating a striking contrast to the dark shadows covering the leaves in the background. To the right is a large peony plant with sixteen buds and blossoms growing from thin green stems with light green oval leaves with strong veins. The large blossoms have dark pink centers and light pink outer petals and stand out, reflecting the light. Under the peonies is a smaller plant with large dark green leaves that have thin stems growing outward with groups of round flowers with white centers with a shiny black ball in the middle. Three groups to the left and back of the leaves are red and green striped. The groups in the middle and front are light pink with green stripes. Next to them are clumps of four-petaled star-shaped purple flowers. A bunch of these flowers extend upward past the peony leaves. The clumps at the top right are light blue and white. Next to them a dark colored parrot with a blue body, brown head, red forehead, black beak, and golden round eyes camouflage behind dark leaves. Behind the flowers, tree branches with large dark green leaves extend to the edge of the painting.
Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (French, 1636-1699); Antoine Monnoyer (French, 1670-1747), Still Life with Flowers, Fruits, a Parrot and a Monkey, 1690/1699, oil on canvas, 43 3/8 in x 59 1/8 in, Museum Purchase: Support provided by Laura and Roger Meier through the Director’s Fund and the North Building Campaign. Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, 2004.1

This still life painting by Jean-Baptiste and Antoine Monnoyer captures a richness of color, texture, shadow, and light. The blossoms and fruits evoke a bountiful energy that invites us to step further into the scene. Our own lives also offer places of abundance, richness, and delight, if we take a moment to step further into our scenes as well. We invite you to take a moment today to write about the ‘still life’ around you. Is there a scene unfolding in your own space that feels bountiful in its own right? If so, let’s write about it! If not, let’s imagine it into existence! We also invite you to take a trip to the Museum to see this piece in person in our Marion Miller Overlook Gallery and write with it there. 

We have two prompts to help you get started. As always, you can use one, both, or write whatever else comes. Just set a timer for 13 minutes and keep your pen or pencil moving.

I am celebrating… / I wish…

Writing in community is powerful. We are grateful to our longtime partner Write Around Portland for the writing prompts and inspiration. You can revisit past Sunday posts and look for continuing weekly posts through the year. Please share your work with us!  @writearoundpdx @portlandartmuseum #RespectWritingCommunity #WriteAroundPAM

Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer; Antoine Monnoyer, Still Life with Flowers, Fruits, a Parrot, and a Monkey, 1690/1699, oil on canvas. Museum Purchase: Support provided by Laura and Roger Meier through the Director’s Fund and the North Building Campaign, public domain, 2004.1.

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