The collector Robert Vernon had bought his first Lance still life as early as 1826. He commissioned this work as part of the collection of British contemporary art which he gave to the nation in 1847. Lance exhibited the finished picture at the British Institution in 1848, with a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet: 'The Fruit to this great Feast', using it as a witty allusion to the fact that his painting was a late addition to the feast of British art with which Vernon had enriched the nation. The esteem accorded to Lance gave still life painting a status it had never before achieved in this country.
Gallery label, September 2004
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