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Harnett, William Michael, 1848 to 1892 Oil Paintings

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Was born in Ireland and then, as a child, was moved to Philadelphia. Harnett began his career as an engraver, after studying at both the Pennsylvania Academy and in New York. The best known late nineteenth-century painter of still lives. His earliest works present commonplace objects: newspapers, pipes, books, and mugs. They are arranged in space and so carefully differentiated in texture that the viewer has the almost irresistible impulse to reach out and touch them to make certain that the actual object is not glued to the canvas. This realism delighted his contemporaries but bored the critics who considered such works much too ordinary to be art. Harnett went abroad in 1878 painting and exhibiting in London and Paris and then spending four years in Munich. He changed his subject matter to a somewhat more elegant and cultivated series of objects adding antique brass and pottery, guns, and musical instruments. Harnett then returned to New York to settle down and paint still lives. After his death, Harnett passed into obscurity for a time but interest in his work has resumed in modern times because of its surface resemblance to Surrealism and its arrangements that hint very broadly at Cubism.
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The Old Violin

The Old Violin by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0440-KA)

Music 41

Music 41 by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0441-KA)

Still Life Violin and Music

Still Life Violin and Music by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0442-KA)

Munich Still Life 43

Munich Still Life 43 by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0443-KA)

Old Models

Old Models by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0444-KA)

A Mans Talbe Reversed

A Mans Talbe Reversed by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0446-KA)

After the Hunt

After the Hunt by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0448-KA)

Just Dessert

Just Dessert by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0450-KA)

Munich Still Life 52

Munich Still Life 52 by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0452-KA)

Music and Literature

Music and Literature by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0454-KA)

Still Life 6

Still Life 6 by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0456-KA)

Still Life 58

Still Life 58 by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0458-KA)

Still Life with Bust of Dante

Still Life with Bust of Dante by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0460-KA)

Still Life with Letter to Thomas B Clarke

Still Life with Letter to Thomas B Clarke by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0462-KA)

The Faithful Colt

The Faithful Colt by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GA-0464-KA)

Attention Company

Attention Company by  William Michael Harnett (Painting ID: GE-0007-KA)