Still life with fruit, c.1880
Born in Cephalonia, Nikolaos Xydias for purposes of study originally followed the same road taken by his fellow-countrymen to Venice and Rome. However, his final destination was Paris, where he settled and lived for some 30 years, and where his artistic activity was prolific. Profoundly influenced by the painting of the 'Second Empire' - which gave expression to a constantly rising bourgeois class - he dealt in subjects inspired by antiquity. Equipped with a perfected technique and knowledge of the first quality and mixing with ease with the upper social class, to which he belonged, he also produced a large number of portraits and still lifes, subjects popular and familiar in the society in which he moved.
In Still Life with Fruit, the artist follows the trends of French painting as those took shape after the renewal brought about by Chardin in the depiction of the specific subject. Nevertheless, features of Flemish and Dutch painting of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the influence of which was decisive in the evolution of the genre, also find a place in his pictures. The painstaking rendering by detailed depiction, the special attention paid to contrasts of light, and, above all, the harmony in the arrangement of the objects lend elegance to the picture, while the objects acquire an inner dimension which is opposed to the grandiloquence and affectation of Flemish still lifes and the undiluted realism of the Dutch.