Still Life of Fruit (Musk Melon, Grapes, Italian Plums, Blueberries, Peach, and Pear)

attributed to James Henry Cafferty, American, 1819 - 1869


about 1865

Oil on academy board

Overall: 12 3/4 × 16 5/8 in. (32.4 × 42.2 cm)

Frame: 15 1/16 × 18 3/4 in. (38.2 × 47.6 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Frank P. Stetz in memory of David Stewart Hull, Class of 1960



Place Made: United States, North America


19th century

Object Name


Research Area


On view


Signed, in black pigment, lower left [signature may not be authentic]: J. H. CAFFERTY


The painting above is thought to be an allegory of life, with the grapes representing youth and the raisins signifying old age. Within this exhibition, these fruits also speak to the importance of water in cultivation. Abundant juices contained within the ripe grapes, melons, plums, peaches, and pears juxtapose with water’s absence in the withering raisins.

In the painting below, round cherries on branches encircle a toppled basket of plump raspberries. Just picked from the garden, these delectable fruits suggest a year of bountiful rains. Stacked baskets inform us that there are many more left to harvest, perhaps to be baked into a sweet desert or processed into a jam.

Reliable access to clean water was essential togrowing the fruits portrayed in these paintings and remains important to ensuring the security of our food supply today.

From the 2023 exhibition Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, curated by Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

Course History

First Year Student Enrichment Program - Cultures, Identities and Belongings, Francine A'Ness, Summer 2023

Exhibition History

James Henry Cafferty, N.A.(1819-1869), New-York Historical Society, New York, May 22-August 24, 1986, no.25.

Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, Israel Sack Gallery and the Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 29, 2023-June 16, 2024.

Publication History

David Stewart Hull, James Henry Cafferty, N.A.(1819-1869), New-York Historical Society, New York, 1986, p.40.


Marsden Hartley (1877–1943), until 1943; Estate of Marsden Hartley, No. 525, at Babcock Gallery, New York, New York.; sold to David Stuart Hull, New York, New York, 1983; bequeathed to Frank P. Stetz, New York, New York, 1998; given to present collection, 2004.

Catalogue Raisonne

Hull no.216 (page 54 in catalogue raisonné section of David Stewart Hull, James Henry Cafferty, N.A. (1818-1869), New-York Historical Society, New York, 1986).

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