Giovanni Paolo Castelli, called lo Spadino for his characteristic dagger signature, was a Roman painter known for his still lifes featuring colorful groupings of fruit. His favorite type of composition, set outdoors in a garden, refers to Abraham Brueghel, who may well have been his first teacher before he traveled to Naples in 1675. However, the defining qualities of his paintings - a clarity of tone, lively brushstrokes, and a style that is more evocative than descriptive - recall Christian Berentz, a German painter who worked outside the strict optical naturalism characteristic of many northern artists. Ludovica Trezzani believes that the nearest precedent for Spadino was David de Coninck, who lived near Spadino in San Lorenzo in Lucina. Spadino rarely left Rome and his paintings demonstrate a consistent awareness of contemporary Roman art, as he moved away from the sixteenth-century canon toward a more elegant and decorative manner.
The present pair of canvases are characteristic works by the artist. In the first, a pile of peaches and grapes have been arranged in front of a tree in an outdoor setting, together with a cantaloupe that has been split open to showcase the artist's dexterity with the representation of the contrasting textures and colors of the flesh and rind. In the second, grapes and peaches are clustered with apples and pears at the base of an overgrown tree stump. Both rely on a range of reds, yellows, oranges and grayish-greens, with the fruits illuminated by a cool, silvery light while the vegetation recedes into the background.