William Michael Harnett

(American born Ireland, 1848 - 1892)

William Michael Harnett, the leading late nineteenth century American exponent of trompe l’oeil painting, was born in Ireland and brought to Philadelphia as an infant. After being trained as an engraver, he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1868. The following year Harnett moved to New York, where he studied at the National Academy of Design and Cooper Union. He returned to Philadelphia in 1876 and resumed his studies at the Academy. He went to Europe in 1880 and spent four years in Munich, where he painted the first of his four versions of the famous large game piece After the Hunt (1883; Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio). Upon his return to the United States Harnett settled in New York, where he lived for the remainder of his brief but highly successful career. REFERENCE: Doreen Bolger, Marc Simpson, and John Wilmerding, eds., William M. Harnett (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1992)