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William Harnett--Trompe l'Oeil.

This program on the National Gallery of Art website offers an in-depth look at the work of William Harnett, "the undisputed master of illusionism." Harnett gained fame in nineteenth-century America for his trompe l'oeil paintings that were so convincing, viewers would reach out and try to touch the objects he depicted to see if they were real or painted. The site features Harnett's painting, The Old Violin and highlights various pictorial innovations that he incorporated into the work.

Comparisons are made to John Frederick Peto's painting titled Old Violin to demonstrate the uniqueness of Harnett's style and compositional decisions. Lastly, there is a brief but interesting account of the popularity of nineteenth-century American artists creating trompe l'oeil images of money, which led to the arrest of Harnett for counterfeiting. All in all, this is an informative site that will nicely complement the study of illusion in art at the middle and high school levels.
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Author:Roland, Craig
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 1, 2003
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