De Scott Evans was a painter of portraits and still-lifes and was primarily known in his era for his vertical images on canvas of women in interiors. However, his trompe l'oeil still lifes of luscious fruit brought him more attention after he died. Interestingly, it appears that he did not take his still-life work seriously as few of the pieces have a formal signature nor a date, and many have pseudonyms.

Though he was born in 1847 in Wayne County, Indiana as David Scott Evans, he changed his name after a trip in the 1870s to France. Whether he suffered from an identity crisis, wished to paint under a pseudonym, or was trying to avoid creditors, Evans may have used signatures as varied as Scott David, Stanley S. David and simply David on his pictures.

There is further uncertainty about his youthful art training, but it is known that he studied at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and later with Alfred Beaugureau in Cincinnati. In the early to mid-1870s, he taught art, as well as music, in Logansport, Indiana at Smithson College, and at Mount Union College, Alliance, Ohio. Evans moved to Cleveland in 1874.

Around 1877, he went to Paris and studied under Adolphe William Bouguereau. When he came back to Cleveland, he became known for his portraits of stylish women. In our day, Evans is known for his trompe l'oeil still-lifes of apples and pears suspended by strings in front of the meticulously detailed grain of wooden boards. In keeping with what may be the eccentricity of his use of multiple names, Evans included in his still-lifes painted labels, again with variations on his name.

In Cleveland, he established the first art club, and taught at the Cleveland Academy of Fine Arts, where he later became co-director, holding that position from 1883 until he moved to New York.

Evans life ended particularly tragically. He and his family were drowned in 1898 in the Atlantic Ocean when his ship, the S.S. Burgoyne, sank after a collision with another ship. A patron from Cleveland had commissioned Evans to decorate his music room in Paris.

De Scott Evans work is in the collections of the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.

Source: Michael David Zellman, "300 Years of American Art"

Works by De Scott (David) Evans