About this artwork
This pristinely arranged still life by Hannah Brown Skeele features native-grown produce as well as imported specialties such as bananas, oranges, pineapple, and sugar cubes. Skeele skillfully rendered the various surfaces and textures of the food and tableware, and her composition was likely to appeal to middle- and upper-class consumers at midcentury. Born in Maine and active in Missouri, the artist exhibited Fruit Piece the year it was painted, then already in the collection of a Saint Louis businessman.
The tropical fruits and sweetener were products of empire. Enslaved and indentured laborers of color cultivated such crops in the West Indies and Central and South America. The goods were transported from those regions to New Orleans and then northward along the Mississippi River.
- Hannah Brown Skeele
- Fruit Piece
- Saint Louis (Object made in)
- Oil on canvas
- 50.8 × 60.6 cm (20 × 23 7/8 in.)
- Purchased with funds provided by Charles C. Haffner, III, Mrs. Harold T. Martin, Mrs. Herbert A Vance, and Jill Burnside Zeno; through prior acquisition of the George F. Harding Collection