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Levi Wells Prentice
Levi Wells Prentice (1851-1935) painted both landscape and still life throughout his career. His landscapes were mainly of the Adirondack and central New York state region near his birthplace, while his still lifes were both set in interiors and directly in nature. His style of painting was marked by an intense realism heightened by Prentice's skill in rendering texture, color and form.
Apples in a Brown Hat shows the artist's favorite fruit which he painted in myriad ways many times - on a tabletop, outside under a tree, or still growing on the bough. His apples are not glorified, beautiful or perfect; instead he shows them as they are in nature, complete with bruises, gouges and bumps. Prentice paid meticulous attention to detail and his obsession with these details as well as his thoughtful arrangement of elements in his still lifes carried over from his careful study of the natural landscape that he painted early in his career. He followed the truth to nature principles of John Ruskin, the English artist and critic who instructed artists to go to nature directly for everything they needed in their art: "Every class of rock, earth, and cloud, must be known by the painter, with geological and meteorological accuracy." He believed that a finished work of art was an accumulation of the facts, and, as a result, the truth. The vibrant colors, hard-edged forms, and sharply focused details in Apples in a Brown Hat are stylistic components that together form Prentice's trademark and, as with his landscapes, lend his work a curiously contemporary air.