American, 1851-1935

Basket of Apples, 1891

oil on canvas
signed and dated in the center "L.W. Prentice / 1891"
20 x 16 inches

  • Provenance: Private Collection

    Framed Dimensions: 31 1/2 x 27 1/2 x 3 inches

    Levi Wells Prentice was raised on a farm in Lewis County, New York. He moved to
    Syracuse in 1870 and later spent four years in Buffalo. Prentice was self-taught,
    first painting the Adirondack Mountain landscape around him. From the start, he painted
    in a distinctive delineated style withvibrant colors. Art historians now refer to this as
    "hard-edged realism."[1]

    In 1883, Prentice moved to Brooklyn where there was already a community of still-life artists. His
    meticulous style was well suited to still-lifes, and his depictions of apples, plums, peaches and
    raspberries are among his best-known works. Prentice combined the influence of contemporary
    painting trends, the attention to detail of the American Pre-Raphaelites and the playful deceit of
    the trompe l'oeil artists. The outcome was distinctive and still-lifes by Prentice can be readily
    identified by their characteristic color and clarity.

    Art historian William Gerdts says of Prentice's still lifes, "A characteristic peculiar to Prentice
    is a rustic unpretentiousness. His fruit is brilliantly colored but often pitted with spots or
    holes… Even his most elaborate container, the tin pail, is a mundane kitchen object…Indeed,
    Prentice's work is the most photographic of all the late nineteenth century fruit painters."[2]

    In the present lot, Basket of Apples, the apples are extremely realistic. Their abundance on the
    ground and the full basket indicating the season for picking. Prentice depicts every blade of grass
    and all of the woodgrain in the basket and fence in extreme detail.

    Still life paintings by Prentice are included in numerous public and private collections including
    the New York State Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Montclair Art Museum, the Philbrook
    Museum of Art, and Yale University Art Gallery.

    [1] Barbara L. Jones, Nature Staged: The Landscapes and Still Life Paintings of Levi Wells
    Prentice, (Blue Mountain Lake, New York: Adirondack Museum, 1993), p. 52.

    [2] William H. Gerdts and Russell Burke, American Still-Life Painting, (New York:
    Washington: London: Praeger Publishers, 1971), p. 162.

    Tags: oil painting, 19th century, Albany artist, listed artist, still-life
  • Condition: in excellent overall condition; unlined canvas; no restoration apparent under UV; in an exceptional period frame

    We are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Shannon’s is merely a subjective qualified opinion. Frames on all paintings are sold "As Is". Frames may need some conservation. 

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