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Baldwin Apples by Bryant Chapin

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The bounty of nature is depicted in this arrangement of freshly picked, crisp Baldwin apples, at the time the most popular variety in New England. The subject was a favorite of Chapin’s and one he often returned to throughout his career.

This painting is a fine example of the artist’s still life compositions depicted in an outdoor setting. Instead of the lush, naturalistic environment favored by many artists of the era, Chapin presents the apples on the ground, in a simplified greenish-brown setting, devoid of grass, forcing the viewer to focus on the beautifully rendered fruit. In the foreground, a twig provides contrast, with its leathery leaves evidencing a brisk autumn and an orchard, ripe for the picking.

A hallmark of Chapin’s style is that the fruit oftentimes does not appear to be firmly resting on the surface – be it a highly-polished tabletop, or the ground – causing the fruit to appear to be slightly hovering. A fault, certainly, but a charming idiosyncrasy.


  • Excerpt from a letter from Doug Borden to the FRHS curator: “In memory of my deceased spouse, Joan L. Borden, who I had the distinct pleasure of meeting for the first time on 1 April 1956. As you know, it was pure love for nearly 64 years after that, and we never looked back.”

Details of Painting

  • Artist : Bryant Chapin
  • Artist Dates : 1859-1927
  • Genre : Still Life
  • Year : 1916
  • Material : Oil on Canvas
  • Dimension : 16" x 22"
  • Object ID# : 2022.16.1

About the Artist

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Bryant Chapin

Fall River, Massachusetts

Bryant Chapin (American, 1859-1927), an artist best known for his still life paintings, was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, and was a life-long resident of the city.

Chapin was a student of Robert Spear Dunning (1829-1905), with whom he was very closely associated, and his still life paintings, particularly his early works, clearly exhibit Dunning’s influence. His maternal aunt was Sarah Augusta Borden née Washburn (1841-1911), noted as “the pioneer teacher of art” in Fall River and the “dean” of the city’s artists. Thus, it is possible that his earliest training came under the tutelage of his aunt Augusta.

Following an early career in engineering and banking, his desire to pursue art as a profession culminated in 1888, when he opened his first studio at the age of twenty-nine; he maintained a studio in his native city for the remainder of his life. He enjoyed a brief stint as an educator, serving as an instructor of freehand drawing at the Fall River Evening Drawing School, conducted as a division of the Fall River Public School System.

Chapin’s prolific output included still life, landscape, marine painting, and the occasional portrait, and he exhibited extensively throughout his career. Naturally shy and retiring, he possessed a character that was noted as “conscientious in the extreme.”

His still life work is divided into two painting styles: an assortment of fruit arranged on a highly polished tabletop, often with an elaborately carved-edge molding, and deep reflections; or pieces set outdoors, with fruit presented in direct contact with the ground, with a generalized, greenish-brown naturalistic background left vague to allow the viewer to focus on the subject. These plein air pieces often feature luscious, ripe berries spilling from juice-stained, wooden berry boxes.

Chapin journeyed extensively throughout New England and Canada to paint landscapes, and twice – in 1912 and 1913 – traveled abroad in search of subjects. Of his painterly, Impressionistic landscapes, a contemporary observer noted, he “imbued his paintings with a wistful mysticism which made them popular.” Fellow artist and friend, Hezekiah Anthony Dyer (1872-1943), stated: “Fall River did not quite appreciate Mr. Chapin’s [landscape] works, which require study to see the master touch.”

Chapin is recognized as one of the foremost artists of the Fall River School.

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  • 451 Rock Street, Fall River, MA 02720
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  • Due to a major infrastructure project, the FRHS Museum will be closed beginning July 22, 2023. The Musem Shop is closed until further notice.