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Elementary: Still Life of Fruit, Honeycomb, and Knives by Robert Spear Dunning (Art Card)

Robert Spear Dunning (American, 1829 to 1905), Still Life of Fruit, Honeycomb, and Knives, 1867, oil on canvas

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About the Artist

Robert Spear Dunning was born in Maine in 1829, grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, and studied painting in New York. He returned to Fall River to establish his career as an artist. He opened a studio and taught art to others.


About the Art

A still life is a painting that depicts fruit, flowers, and other everyday objects in an arrangement.


Look Closely

  • Name the different foods that you recognize in this painting. What other kinds of objects do you see?
  • There are no people in this painting. Where do you see evidence of a person’s presence?



  • Look again at the different foods in the painting and think about how they connect to place and the environment. Where do these foods grow? What time of year do they usually grow? Is it realistic to see all these foods together at one time? Why or why not?
  • American still life paintings use food and decorative objects to celebrate the United States as a place of bounty and prosperity. This painting was done more than 150 years ago. How would you update it to reflect today’s world?



Consider how this painting can be connected to issues related to power such as to resources and class.

  • Does the food in this painting represent a need or want?
  • Who do you think would buy this painting? Where would they hang it?


Más información

Visit the “Learn More” sidebar to find more information about the work of art and artist and find other works of art that relate to the subject matter, media, and techniques used by the artist.