Although Walt Kuhn is most famous for his many representations of circus workers, still lifes were an important part of his oeuvre. Green Apples and Scoop is one of two major still-life compositions painted during the summer of 1939 in Ogunquit, Maine. Apples appear in abundance in Kuhn’s still lifes, and he once commented that “they reminded him of backsides,” a statement that his biographer Philip Rhys Adams dismissed as “a bawdy brush-off of a difficult question.” Be that as it may, Kuhn took his apples seriously: he remarked that an apple still life he painted in 1944 was the result of “at least four years of investigating apples in general.” When Green Apples and Scoop was exhibited at Durand-Ruel Galleries in 1946, a critic deemed it an example of “solid and magnificent painting” that was “built from simple grandeur and its color fairly sings with joy.” Among the artist’s most successful still lifes, William H. Gerdts and Russell Burke selected it to represent Kuhn’s contribution to the genre in their classic study American Still-Life Painting (1971).
Walt Kuhn painted two major still-life compositions during the summer of 1939 when he was in Ogunquit, Maine: Still Life with Apples
Apples appear in abundance in Kuhn’s still lifes, and he once commented that “they reminded him of backsides,” a statement that Philip Rhys Adams dismissed as “a bawdy brush-off of a difficult question.”
Frank Getlein, Walt Kuhn 1877–1949 (New York, 1967), n. p.; Philip Rhys Adams, Walt Kuhn, Painter: His Life and Work (Columbus, OH, 1978), 188.
Philip Rhys Adams, Walt Kuhn, Painter: His Life and Work (Columbus, OH, 1978), 156–157.
Unidentified letter of Oct. 1948, cited by Philip Rhys Adams, Walt Kuhn, Painter: His Life and Work (Columbus, OH, 1978), 188.
Reflecting Kuhn’s lofty ambitions as a still-life painter, the subject, emphasis on plastic form, organic tonality, and monumental quality of Green Apples and Scoop clearly reflect the influence of the great French precursor of cubism
Paul Bird, Fifty Paintings by Walt Kuhn (New York and London, 1940), 27.
Marion Summers, Daily Worker, Nov. 14, 1946, quoted in Philip Rhys Adams, Walt Kuhn, Painter: His Life and Work (Columbus, OH, 1978), 188.
Charles Z. Offin, “Gallery Previews in New York,” Pictures on Exhibit 9, no. 2 (Nov. 1946): 20, quoted in Philip Rhys Adams, Walt Kuhn, Painter: His Life and Work (Columbus, OH, 1978), 188.
William H. Gerdts and Russell Burke, American Still-Life Painting (New York, 1971), 219, fig. 16-7.
August 17, 2018
lower right: Walt Kuhn / 1939
(Durand-Ruel Gallery, New York); purchased 12 December 1946 by W. Averell [1891-1986] and Marie N. [1903-1970] Harriman, New York; W. Averell Harriman Foundation, New York; gift 1972 to NGA.
- Probably Walt Kuhn, Grace Horne Galleries, Boston, 1941.
- Paintings by Walt Kuhn, Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York, 1946, no. 1.
- Pictures Collected by Yale Alumni, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 1956, no. 162, repro.
- Walt Kuhn, Albany Institute of History and Art, 1958, no. 13.
- Walt Kuhn 1877-1949: A Memorial Exhibition, Cincinnati Art Museum, 1960, no. 79, color repro.
- Exhibition of the Marie and Averell Harriman Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1961, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
- Painter of Vision: A Retrospective Exhibition of Oils, Watercolors and Drawings by Walt Kuhn, 1877-1949, The University of Arizona Art Gallery, Tucson, 1966: no. 89, repro.
- Walt Kuhn: A Classic Revival, Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha; Wichita Art Museum; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 1978-1979, no. 40.
- Extended loan for use by Ambassador Maxwell M. Rabb, U.S. Embassy residence, Rome, Italy, 1981-1989.
- Extended loan for use by Ambassador Peter F. Secchia, U.S. Embassy residence, Rome, Italy, 1989-1990.
- Extended loan for use by Ambassador Robert H. Pelletreau, U.S. Embassy residence, Cairo, Egypt, 1991-1993.
- Extended loan for use by Ambassador Pamela Harriman, U.S. Embassy residence, Paris, France, 1993-1997.
- Extended loan for use by Secretary William M. Daley, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C., 1997-2000.
- Extended loan for use by Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, U.S. Department of of Commerce, Washington, D.C., 2000-2001.
- Extended loan for use by Mrs. Richard Cheney, Old Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C., 2001-2009.
Exhibition History Notes
 A painting titled Green Apples with Scoop is mentioned in a review of the exhibition.
The finely woven, medium-weight fabric support has been lined with wax and remounted on a nonoriginal stretcher. The right tacking margin was inscribed “Apple and Scoop,” followed by some illegible writing. The artist applied paint in thick layers of impasto over a commercially prepared off-white ground. He followed a strongly delineated outline executed with a fine brush in black paint. Visible pentimenti indicate changes in the drawing and modeling of the scoop.
Infrared examination was conducted with the Kodak 310-21x, a platinum silicide camera with a 55 mm macro lens and a 1.5–2.0 micron filter. It shows only the easily discernible black paint outline and the artist's changes that are otherwise visible on the surface.
- Gerdts, William H., and Russell Burke. American Still-Life Painting. New York, 1971: 219, fig. 16-7.
- Adams, Philip Rhys. Walt Kuhn, Painter: His Life and Work. Columbus, OH, 1978: 187-188, 267, no. 387, color repro.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 190, repro.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 223, repro.