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Baskets of Strawberries by Bryant Chapin

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The sensory pleasures of picking warm, fragrant strawberries on a peak-season June afternoon is evoked in this still life painting.

Two chipwood berry baskets, filled with an abundance of ripe native strawberries, rest on the ground, with the beige containers and the vibrant, yellow-heightened red flesh in sharp contrast with the brown earth and loosely defined naturalistic background. An upturned basket spills its luscious contents onto the ground, exposing a portion of the interior, scarred with the stains of sweet red juice.

A single, small berry dangles precariously by its stem from the basket depicted right-side up, seemingly a touch of whimsy that, in fact, unifies the composition, drawing the eye from the overfilled basket in the middle ground to the cascade of fruit in the foreground.

Chapin executed numerous paintings of strawberries throughout his career, arranging the fruit in a single basket, or in two, and, in at least one occurrence, three containers. The berries were also presented spilling from a torn paper bag that has fallen on its side, a less common format that he also utilized for apples or peaches.

Strawberry paintings by Chapin are not uncommon, but this work is a particularly fine example. It is an extraordinarily well-balanced composition, with the baskets firmly anchored to the ground and the fruit realistically painted, with sunlight reflecting from delicate, seed-textured skin.


  • Excerpt from a letter from Doug Borden to the FRHS curator: “In memory of my dear departed wife, Joan, who would have celebrated her 91st birthday on 23 January [2023]. It is my hope that you will be able to purchase another piece of art worthy of inclusion in your outstanding collection.”

Details of Painting

  • Artist : Bryant Chapin
  • Artist Dates : 1859-1927
  • Genre : Still Life
  • Year : 1922
  • Material : Oil on Canvas
  • Dimension : 18" x 14"
  • Object ID# : 2022.54.1

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
  • (508)-679-1071
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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.