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William Mason Brown - Raspberries


William Mason Brown (1828-1898), American

Raspberries, 1873

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 1860s 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 In an era when agriculture was rapidly being superseded by industry as the nation's primary economic force, however, these generous helpings of ripe fruit offered nostalgic allegories of the nation's agricultural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.