In 1980-1981, Lichtenstein revisited the theme of the still-life that he had developed between 1972-1976. Lemon and Apple is among these works. Often he came to his subjects by referencing art historical images of both low and high art. Lemon and Apple recalls both Dutch still-life as well as the still-lifes of Cezanne.
Lawrence Alloway writes, "In art history, iconography depends on the use of literary sources to explicate the meanings of the subject matter of visual art...Iconography is identified with subject matter in the art of the 1960s and after, and to this extent it approximates the traditional sense of the term. However, to pursue specific sources for each image by every iconographically oriented artist would be an oppressive academic exercise. Here iconography is used to denote not point-by-point translation of a prior text, but susceptibility to the continuum of visual images that our culture, more than any other, has generated" (L. Alloway, Roy Lichtenstein, New York, 1983, p. 102).
Lemon and Apple is a striking example of Lichtenstein's still life oeuvre. The simple form of the apple and lemon, placed within a spare foreground, is subjugated by the dynamic mannered brushstrokes. These "strokes" which, in fact, show no evidence of impasto or the artist's hand, are a still life of their own.