Peaches, plums, figs, and mulberries are arranged against a dark background. These fruit represent the rich produce of Southern Italy. In addition to providing berries, mulberry trees also provided an income for Italian peasant farmers, who sold their leaves as food for silk worms. In a shiny vase on the left are a handful of carnations; on the right, a melon is cut into three parts.
This still life has been attributed to an artist known as the 'Master of Metropolitan Still Life'. This still life painter was a possibly a successor to the Flemish painter Abraham Brueghel (1631-1697), who moved to Naples in 1675, or to Giuseppe Ruoppolo (c. 1631-1710), who also specialised in still lives in Naples. More recently scholars have noticed the similarity of the Metropolitan Master's dramatic treatment of shadows and colour with that of the early work of the Roman still life painter Michele Pace del Campidoglio, known as Michelangelo del Campidoglio (1625-1669), suggesting that the Metropolitan Master could be the Roman painter Michele Pace himself.
The Metropolitan Master Still Life with Melon, Peaches, Figs, Mulberries, Plums, and Carnations About 1650 © Compton Verney