As part of the preparation for our 20 years celebrations, our Chinese Bronzes and Women’s Library collections will be closed from Monday 26 February, reopening with the rest of our new season on Thursday 21 March.

Luca Forte about 1600/1605–before 1670

Still Life with Apples, Grapes and a Dragonfly



Luca Forte about 1600/1605–before 1670


Still Life with Apples, Grapes and a Dragonfly


Before 1640-1650


Oil on copper


15.6 x 20.6 cm (unframed); 24 x 28 cm (framed)






On Display

Luca Forte was one of the pioneers of still life painting in Naples and was active in the first half of the seventeenth century. Little is known about his life, and although he signed his works (such as this one), he never dated them. This small still life of shiny apples and bunches of grapes is typical of Luca Forte’s production, but it is unusually painted on copper. Copper was favoured by artists as a support for small-scale works, as its smooth surface allowed for the use of a very fine brush to focus on tiny details, like the dragonfly darting in the composition from the upper left. We can recognise two different grape varieties. The first, curved and elongated, is the white cornicella, also known as ‘green gold’. Grown in the Vesuvius area, this grape is so called because it recalls the shape of the characteristic Neapolitan talisman called the corno, or horn. The second smaller, rounded and lightly bruised grape is another variety from Southern Italy, known as the strawberry grape. The fruit is set against a dark background and is resting upon a simple marble ledge. This allows the artist to concentrate on capturing the textures, imperfections, and solidity of the fruit, producing a realistic depiction that is based on intense observation of nature. Signed: I.f.

Luca Forte Still Life with Apples, Grapes and a Dragonfly Before 1640-1650 © Compton Verney