Raised by a religious family in rural Ohio, Barton Stone Hays learned to draw on barn walls using charcoal. He did not see his first oil painting until the age of twenty. After painting portraits of family and friends, he began accepting commissions and went on to become one of the first art teachers in Indianapolis, where he instructed William Forsyth, John Elwood Bundy and William Merritt Chase.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art comments that “Although Hays is best known for his portraits, he also excelled at still life painting. Strawberries exemplifies the artist’s use of strong contrasts of light and dark to enhance the fruit. He often incorporated a basket from which the strawberries spilled. The texture of the berry and the delicacy of its leaves are superbly captured by Hays who used his skill to create a realistic image of this lush fruit.”