Catalog of the Fine Arts Collection
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William Mason Brown (1828-1898), American
OIL ON CANVAS, 10 x 12 inches
Gift of Horace Fairbanks
Like many American artists of the period, William Mason Brown found his niche as a still life painter during the 186os only after trying his hand at portraiture and landscape painting. Brown's lush depictions of overturned baskets and abundant piles of ripe fruit were particularly appreciated in his day for their meticulous sensitivity to the fruits' textures and patterns.
Humble still life subjects, of which Raspberries is an excellent example, enjoyed immense popularity among American painters and collectors during the mid-nineteenth century. Fine color print reproductions of Brown's compositions sold widely, demonstrating their broad appeal to wealthy and middle-class collectors throughout the country. In an era when agriculture was rapidly being superseded by industry as the nation's primary economic force, however, these generous helpings of ripe fruit offered nostalgic allegories of the nation's agricultural bounty, giving no hint of the labor involved in their growth or harvest.