Jeanne Duval's dramatic still lifes are simultaneously realistic and Surrealistic. The extreme detail with which she paints is similar to that of the Dutch master's still lifes of the 17th century, meticulously capturing blemishes and imperfections; her objects seem to move beyond the realm of real life. Duval lights her subjects with low-placed halogen lamps to achieve dark cast shadows juxtaposed with glowing highlights and precise reflections which she translates in a way that elevates her objects beyond the realm of the ordinary into the ephemeral. Duval's smooth surfaces, sharp angular shadow, and rich colors lend a timeless quality to subjects that we know to be only temporary. It is Duval's objective to give familiar and ordinary objects a sense of permanence that sets them apart from the distraction and clutter of everyday life. She bestows a unique spark of life and drama to everyday objects.
Duval received her BFA from the University of New Hampshire, Durham, in 1978, where she studied with the Italian realist Bruno Civitico. In 1981, she had her first solo exhibition at New York's First Street Gallery. She received her MFA from Brooklyn College in 1981, where she gained respect from her teachers for incorporating many art historical traditions into her work. She has been particularly influenced by Italian Baroque art, which she studied in southern Italy, inspired by the strong compositional arrangements and chiaroscuro juxtapositions that can be seen in the work of Caravaggio and Zurburan.
Duval has exhibited her paintings at the Sherry French Gallery, New York; the Currier Art Gallery, Manchester, New Hampshire; the Gibbes Museum, Charleston, South Carolina; the Hackett-Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, California; the Contemporary Realist Gallery, San Francisco, California; and the Bayly Art Museum, Charlottesville, Virginia. She has received fellowships from the prestigious MacDowell Colony in 1981, 1983, and 1993; Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants in 1987 and 1989; an Ingram-Merrill grant in 1984; and a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1981. Duval is represented in many important public and private collections throughout the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Artspace, New York; the Bayly Art Museum; and the Carey Ellis Company, Houston, Texas.
Since 1983, Duval has divided her time between southern Italy and her home in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.