A French realist painter, Ribot painted portraits, genre and history scenes but was particularly passionate about reviving the popularity of the still life, of which the present work is a stunning example.
The pears and quince are rendered in deft, bold brushstrokes and vivid colours, lending the fruit a certain realism and tactility. They are solid, 3-D volumes, an effect heightened by Ribot's use of dramatic chiaroscuro. The pieces of fruit are spotlit, allowing the fresh greens and reds to stand out proudly from the dark background. Ribot's interest in the contrast between light and dark, and simple, uncluttered and realistic compositions has been attributed to the influence of artists such as Velazquez, Ribera and Rembrandt. However, some have traced it back to his early artistic career: Ribot worked variously as a foreman, painter and decorator in order to support himself and his family and it was not until the 1850s that he was able to concentrate on painting. He initially had to work at light by candlelight, which perhaps inspired the chiaroscuro seen in even his later works.
Professor Gabriel P. Weisberg will include this painting in his monographic study on the artist completed with the assistance of the Wildenstein Foundation.