Carducius Plantagenet Ream
First, the reader has to get beyond the question, “Why would any parent give their little boy a name like this?” I can’t answer it; so let’s move forward. C. P. Ream was a highly competent and successful still-life painter of primarily fruit, sometimes on plates or on a tabletop, or, like two examples here, a naturalistic hanging configuration. A number of his “dessert paintings” were reproduced by Louis Prang into chromolithographs. Ream achieved a sensuous quality in his soft-edged approach to depicting the surface texture, especially of peaches and grapes. I’m not really sure how or why I have ended up with three grape pictures, perhaps a fondness for red and white wine. The first hanging grape image reveals the artist’s naturalistic tendencies with the branch, leaf, and textured green background. This was one of the first 19th-century still lifes I acquired, probably around 1969. The second example is a formal tabletop image with white grapes, a brilliantly colored tablecloth, beautifully realized wine glass, and a bee—a device that Ream did not use very often. A close personal friend and “painting junkie” brought this piece to me around 1982 or so. The third example truly shows a high level of sophistication and imagination; appropriately entitled The Red Thread, it focuses the viewer upon the smallest portion of the picture and shrouds the rest dramatically in shadow. A private dealer with a great eye, and someone from whom I’ve learned a great deal, Richard Weimer, had this picture in his home and did not have to try very hard to sell it.