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.