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Untitled (Still life with Loaf of Bread)

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Olive (""Ollie"") Benfer was born in Hiawatha, Brown County, Kansas, and at an early age studied painting with M. P. Patch, a woman painter in Brown County. Benfer, who later married Ralph Hicks, painted figure studies, landscapes, and still-life compositions such as this one, still life being her most successful genre. Her work in this vein continues the nineteenth-century American fascination with paintings of ordinary objects-often fruit, vegetables, or loaves of bread in an implied domestic setting. Numerous American still-life painters of the nineteenth century were women, among them the female descendants of the Charles Willson Peale family of Philadelphia, which specialized in still-life pictures for generations. Olive Hicks's daughter, Hazel Hicks Taylor, was a well-known still-life and decorative painter in Salem in the 1950s and 1960s. Ollie Hicks lived in Salem at the end of her life and died here in 1955.