One of America’s most important portrait and trompe l’oeil painters, DeScott Evans’ life is still surrounded by some mystery. David Scott Evans was born in Boston, Indiana and later changed his name to a more French sounding “DeScott Evans.” He first began his studies in Cincinnati with Albert Bouguereau in 1864. In 1872 he established himself as a teacher of art and music at Smithson College, Logansport, Indiana. From 1873 to 1875, he taught at Mt. Union College in Alliance, Ohio where he was chairman of the art department. In 1874, Evans opened a studio in Cleveland and founded the city’s first art club. In 1877 he traveled abroad and studied at the prestigious Academie Julian in Paris under master William Adolphe Bouguereau. Evans later began teaching at the newly founded Cleveland Academy of Fine Art in 1883, where he gained acclaim and became a popular painter of elegant young women and of genre scenes.
In 1887 Evans moved to New York City where he set up a studio at the Association Building. In New York, he resumed his 1870s experiments in the realm of trompe l’oeil still life, and created a new identity for himself. He signed these works in a variety of ways: from “DeScott Evans” and “D. Scott Evans” to “S.S. David,” “Stanley S. David,” and “David.” In the meantime, he continued to paint his elegant genre and portrait paintings. He was commissioned by Howell Hinds to paint the ceilings in his French villa, but he and his family tragically died in route when their steamer La Bourgogne collided with another ship.
Evans was an active member of the art community. He was a respected teacher to pupils such as Addison T. Millar, Adam Lehr, Norval Jordan, and Francis H. Dart. Evans exhibited his works at the National Academy of Design, Brooklyn Art Association, and the Tennessee Centennial Exhibition, 1897. His works are housed in collections including the Carnegie Institute, Portland Art Museum, Crocker Collection, Fresno Metropolitan Museum, Columbus Museum of Art, Yale University, and the Snight Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame.