About The Artwork
Le Panier de Fraises presents a summertime still life. Full of saturated colors, it includes a blue jug that holds small white flowers and woven basket overflowing with ripe red strawberries and leaves. This painting was possibly shown in New York at the Hammer Galleries’ Fernand Renard exhibition in 1971; Stuart and Barbara Padnos purchased it from the gallery at that time.
While Renard’s life is not well documented, we do know that he produced work for other American collectors. Notably, Renard painted a mural at Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon’s residence in Upperville, Virginia. Mellon, heiress and wife of billionaire Paul Mellon, was an art collector, philanthropist and self-taught gardener (she designed the White House Rose Garden for Jacqueline Kennedy) who developed elaborate and extensive gardens on her 4,000-acre Oak Spring Farms estate. She enlisted Renard to decorate her greenhouse, which was no small task:
Mellon’s greenhouse at Oak Spring would not be out of place at Versailles … it features a pavilion with a charming trompe l’oeil mural painted by the French artist Fernand Renard. Baskets, watering cans, and other gardening implements are depicted, along with personal items the artist carefully replicated: Mellon’s gardening hat, letters, cigarettes, coat, and so forth.1
Baskets, fruit and flowers that appear in Le Panier de Fraises recur in various guises throughout Mellon’s greenhouse mural. Nothing more is known about this project, but photographs of the mural and garden illustrated a 2010 profile of Mellon in Vanity Fair magazine.
Assistant Professor, Frederik Meijer Honors College, Grand Valley State University
- James Reginato, “Bunny Mellon’s Secret Garden,” Vanity Fair (August 2010), accessed online.