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The Irish Question

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




De Scott Evans
American, 1847–1898

About this artwork

A seemingly uncomplicated representation of two potatoes suspended by a string against a wood panel, The Irish Question is an unusual and striking trompe l’oeil painting that raises numerous questions. The title may refer to the troubled status of the Irish in the late 19th century; the hanging potatoes inflect this allusion with either ominous overtones or a dark sense of humor. Illusionistic paintings such as The Irish Question offer an enjoyable form of visual deception, and the pseudonymous signature “S.S. David” suggests that De Scott Evans relished the opportunity to puzzle his viewers on many levels.


On View, Gallery 173


Arts of the Americas


De Scott Evans


The Irish Question


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1880–1889


Oil on canvas


Signed "S.S. David" at lower left


30.5 × 25.4 cm (12 × 10 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Carol W. Wardlaw and Jill Burnside Zeno; Roger and J. Peter McCormick Endowment Fund

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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