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Apple Vendor

ca. 1933-1934 Barbara Stevenson Born: St. Louis, Missouri 1912 Died: 2006 oil on canvas 31 1/4 x 29 1/8 in. (79.3 x 74.1 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.97 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 35A

Luce Center Label

Barbara Stevenson painted Apple Vendor for the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), a New Deal program created by the federal government to give financial and moral support to American artists during the Great Depression. Artists were encouraged to go out and paint "the American Scene," meaning they should record the look and feel of the country. This scene depicts an old man seated on a street corner, crate in front of him with piles of yellow and red apples for sale at "5 cents a piece." The man’s figure dominates the composition, creating a heroic and monumental presence. In the background the factory chimneys, a sign of industry and hope, strike a silhouette against the golden sky. Perhaps we can also sense optimism for the future in the inclusion of a mother and child in this scene, completing a generational timeline next to the apple vendor.


Architecture - industry - factory

Cityscape - street

Figure group - female and child

Figure male - full length

Occupation - vendor - fruit seller

Recreation - leisure - smoking

New Deal - Public Works of Art Project - Missouri


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Barbara Stevenson

Born: St. Louis, Missouri 1912 Died: 2006