Amon Carter print details

The Lobster

Arthur Dove (1880-1946)

Object Details

  • Date


  • Object Type


  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    25 5/8 x 32 in.

  • Inscriptions


    signed and dated, l.r.: DOVE \ 08

  • Credit Line

    Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Acquisition in memory of Anne Burnett Tandy, Trustee, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 1968-1980

  • Accession Number


  • Copyright

    Public domain

Object Description

In 1907, Dove gave up his job as a commercial illustrator to study modern art in France. There, he was inspired by the still-life paintings of Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse. Cézanne experimented with spatial dimensions by layering objects on uneven tabletops, while Matisse used pure color and decorative designs to explore rhythmic energy.

Like those French masters, Dove stacked ripe fruits and a lobster on a cloth-covered table set against busy wallpaper. The backdrop, placement of the objects, and palette of bright pinks, oranges, and violets combine to infuse this static subject with a visual liveliness. While critics disparaged the painting, Dove was undeterred and went on to become one of America’s first abstract artists.

Additional details

Location: On view
See more by Arthur Dove


  • This early 20th-century artist was considered progressive when he painted this still life called The Lobster.

    This scene shows a table with a white tablecloth draped over it with several food items placed on top. The table is cropped so only the top and a few inches of the front side are shown; the legs and ends of the table are not seen. The background wallpaper is a soft pink and green floral motif. The focal point on the table is a red lobster on a platter placed toward the left side of the canvas. The giant claws hang over the front side of the table, and the very tip of the claw falls on the right off the edge of the canvas. To the left of the lobster is a yellow and green head of lettuce. On the right side of the crustacean are oranges, heart-shaped yellow peaches, and a large bunch of dark purple grapes. There is a giant yellow mango on the right side of the table, sitting next to a white pitcher. The handle of the pitcher is facing out toward the viewer, and pink dashes make a flower shape with green dashes as leaves on the bulbous body of the pitcher.

    The artist signed his last name, “Dove,” in the bottom right corner.

Educator Resources
  • What is the significance of the genre of still life in the history of painting? How have still lifes changed over time?

    What can the objects chosen for a still life tell us about the artist, patron, or time in which they were created?

    What impact does medium have on the final work of art?

    How might public response shape the development of an artist or the development of artistic styles and movements?

  • All Levels

    Activity 1
    The artist painted The Lobster over 100 years ago. Imagine a table full of food today. Students will make a sketch of a modern table scene in the style of Dove. Students should consider: What food and objects are on the table? How are they arranged? What is in the background?

    Activity 2
    Show an image of Raphaelle Peale’s Peaches and Grapes in a Chinese Basket from almost 100 years earlier. Have students compare and contrast the two artworks. Set up a still life in the classroom (a tablecloth and plastic oranges, lobster, grapes) for students to draw. Ask them to think about their choices as they work: Are they choosing realistic colors or less expected ones? Adding straight lines or seeking rounded shapes? Is their setting flat or deep?

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