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William Michael Harnett


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(b Clonakilty, Co. Cork, 10 Aug. 1848; d New York, 29 Oct. 1892).

American still-life painter. He was born in Ireland and brought to America as a child, living first in Philadelphia and then from 1869 in New York (with the exception of a stay in Europe, 1880–6). He specialized in elaborate trompe-l'œil compositions, often involving firearms or musical instruments (After the Hunt, 1885, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco). Although his works were long popular with the public, they were generally dismissed by critics as mere sleight of hand until about 1940, when they began to win favour for their strength of composition.

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