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After the Hunt
William Michael Harnett (American, circa 1848 - 92)
1883. Oil on canvas, 52 1/2 x 36". 1919.001
William Michael Harnett worked in the tradition of trompe l’oeil (meaning “deceives the eye”), a form of painting popular since antiquity, because viewers are fascinated by the overwhelming realism of the painted illusions. Between 1880 and 1886, while in Europe, Harnett painted four versions of this arrangement of hunting equipment hanging on a wooden door. When he returned to New York City, he became the most popular still-life painter in America. Although these still-lifes were popular, they were rarely taken seriously by the American art world, and they often hung in bars and saloons. Harnett sold the fourth and largest of this series to Theodore Stewart for his famous New York City saloon.