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LOT 352

William Michael Harnett (American, Irish 1848 - 1892). Still life with cigar box, wine decanter and newspaper, 1881.

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William Michael Harnett (American, Irish 1848 - 1892)
Still life with cigar box, wine decanter and newspaper, 1881
oil on canvas
signed, dated and inscribed 'WMHarnett München 1881' (upper left)
image size 26 x 20.5 cm., frame size 34 x 28.5 cm.
Artist Name: William Michael Harnett (American, Irish 1848 - 1892) Notes: Born in Ireland, 1848, William Michael Harnett was brought to Philadelphia as a child. Harnett enrolled in the Antique class of the Pennsylvania Academy in 1866 and continued his artistic education in New York. A sale of his paintings in 1880 provided the artist with funds to go abroad. After a brief stay in London and Frankfort, Harnett settled in Munich, where he remained for about three years.

During his stay, Harnett studied the Dutch Old Masters and consequently acquired an even more delicate technique and created a number of compositions filled with antiques. According to Alfred Frankenstein, Harnett seems to have been determined to let the world know which of his works were created in Munich as he did not inscribe other works in this fashion: all known works during his three-year stay, have been signed ‘Munich’, in its German form, on a separate line between the signature and the date. (A. Frankenstein, After the Hunt : William Harnett and other American still life painted 1870-1900, London, p. 63)

Harnett's precise painting style, with groups of darkly toned objects on table tops, can be seen throughout his whole painting career. However, his ability to create a strong sense of surface texture, seemed to have become even stronger during and after his stay in Munich. For the first time, Harnett included oriental rugs as table coverings and rich embroidered drapes in the background. The repoussé bronze plaque, the wine decanter and the cigar box can also be seen as recurring objects in his paintings during and after his stay in Munich. When looking at the works ‘Still life with decanter and Frankfurter Zeitung’ (1881) and ‘Still life: Le Mot d’Or’ (1880), in comparison to the presented lot, a close resemblance can be recognised: these works and the present lot are fine examples of his artistic and painterly skills. The precision and clarity in which the textures of glass, bronze and paper have been placed against the vibrant red fabric drapery - resting on a soft-toned oriental rug - manifest Harnett’s careful finish and close attention to detail and reality.

Condition: Craquelure throughout with some minor corresponding cosmetic retouchings predominantly in the lower half, varnish yellowed and with some surface grime in places, lower and right edge very slightly rubbed by the frame, tiny puncture in the upper right corner, overall in good condition. Framed.

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12 Dec 2023
Netherlands, Amsterdam
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William Michael Harnett (American, Irish 1848 - 1892)
Still life with cigar box, wine decanter and newspaper, 1881
oil on canvas
signed, dated and inscribed 'WMHarnett München 1881' (upper left)
image size 26 x 20.5 cm., frame size 34 x 28.5 cm.
Artist Name: William Michael Harnett (American, Irish 1848 - 1892) Notes: Born in Ireland, 1848, William Michael Harnett was brought to Philadelphia as a child. Harnett enrolled in the Antique class of the Pennsylvania Academy in 1866 and continued his artistic education in New York. A sale of his paintings in 1880 provided the artist with funds to go abroad. After a brief stay in London and Frankfort, Harnett settled in Munich, where he remained for about three years.

During his stay, Harnett studied the Dutch Old Masters and consequently acquired an even more delicate technique and created a number of compositions filled with antiques. According to Alfred Frankenstein, Harnett seems to have been determined to let the world know which of his works were created in Munich as he did not inscribe other works in this fashion: all known works during his three-year stay, have been signed ‘Munich’, in its German form, on a separate line between the signature and the date. (A. Frankenstein, After the Hunt : William Harnett and other American still life painted 1870-1900, London, p. 63)

Harnett's precise painting style, with groups of darkly toned objects on table tops, can be seen throughout his whole painting career. However, his ability to create a strong sense of surface texture, seemed to have become even stronger during and after his stay in Munich. For the first time, Harnett included oriental rugs as table coverings and rich embroidered drapes in the background. The repoussé bronze plaque, the wine decanter and the cigar box can also be seen as recurring objects in his paintings during and after his stay in Munich. When looking at the works ‘Still life with decanter and Frankfurter Zeitung’ (1881) and ‘Still life: Le Mot d’Or’ (1880), in comparison to the presented lot, a close resemblance can be recognised: these works and the present lot are fine examples of his artistic and painterly skills. The precision and clarity in which the textures of glass, bronze and paper have been placed against the vibrant red fabric drapery - resting on a soft-toned oriental rug - manifest Harnett’s careful finish and close attention to detail and reality.

Condition: Craquelure throughout with some minor corresponding cosmetic retouchings predominantly in the lower half, varnish yellowed and with some surface grime in places, lower and right edge very slightly rubbed by the frame, tiny puncture in the upper right corner, overall in good condition. Framed.

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Time, Location
12 Dec 2023
Netherlands, Amsterdam
Auction House
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