Free Sample, Take One (Primary Title)

De Scott Evans, American, 1847 - 1898 (Artist)

ca. 1890
oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 12 × 10 in. (30.48 × 25.4 cm)
Framed: 22 × 15 7/8 in. (55.88 × 40.32 cm)

The history of illusionary, highly naturalistic painting in Western art is centuries old, spanning ancient times through the Renaissance to the 17th-century Golden Age of Dutch painting. In the United States, a few artists tried their hand at “deception pieces” in the 1800s, but it was not until the century’s end that trompe-l’oeil (fool-the-eye) imagery emerged as a popular art form.

In this painting, De Scott Evans (also known as S. S. David) pictures a distinctly American subject. Beneath a hand-scrawled card reading “Free Sample, Take One” sits a cache of peanuts—a popular food and one of the nation’s most profitable crops. The tempting pile is so precariously balanced that it seems as if it might tumble down at the least disturbance. An observant taker might also be dissuaded by the jagged edges of the glass barrier.

Evans’s original chip-carved frame, to which the painted canvas is so beautifully matched, is the only known surviving example by the artist.

signed, lower right: "S. S. David"
on frame, upper right corner: "San Francisco, March 1894, Property of Mrs. E. F. Tamm No. 152; lower right corner: "Schussler Bros. Frames Artists Materials Etc 27 Grant Ave. SF"
inscribed, verso: "Stanley S. David" "1847 - 1898" "729LL" "Tamm"; on stretcher: "E F Tamm 3028 Clay Street"; on frame: "729LL"
J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art and partial gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander G. Reeves Jr., and H. Marshall Goodman
San Francisco, March 1894
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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