LEVI WELLS PRENTICE
American, (1851-1935)
Still Life with Raspberries
oil on canvas
signed lower right "L.W. Prentice," signed on the reverse

    Provenance:
  • Private Collection, Connecticut; Shannon's, Greenwich, Connecticut, October 29, 2009, lot 21; Private Collection, New York, New York.
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    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 with vibrant 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, Still Life with Rasperries, the raspberries have an almost surreal, life-like quality. Prentice depicts every blade of grass in extreme detail showing the yellowed roots and the differences in width and length. In the foreground, he details every rock and clump of dirt. The central focus of the composition, the bright red raspberries collected in realistic tin, scattered on the ground, and creeping up the fence post appear like bright illuminated ornaments popping off the canvas.

    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.
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    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.
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    Framed dimensions: 21 5/8 x 28 1/4 x 4 inches

    tags: still-life, oil painting, listed artist
  • Dimensions:
  • 12 x 18 3/4 inches
  • Artist Name:
  • LEVI WELLS PRENTICE
  • Medium:
  • oil on canvas
  • Condition:
  • Unlined canvas; overall very good condition; 2 small very minor patches with corresponding inpaint; in a period frame

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by Shannon's
October 28, 2021 6:00 PM EDT
Milford, CT, US

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