Art for the home could be fancy or familiar. Some American still life painters specialized in hyper-realistic pictures of everyday objects like the pipe, matches, and tobacco tin seen here. William Harnett’s incredibly precise painting technique and his attention to the variety of materials and textures among these objects bring a high level of sophistication to this small work of art. The newspaper extending beyond the table and the smoldering ember in the pipe are masterful moments of this trompe l’oeil painting, the French term for “fool the eye.”



  • Title: Still Life
  • Creator: William Michael Harnett
  • Creator Lifespan: 1848/1892
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: New York City, NY
  • Creator Birth Place: Clonakilty, Ireland
  • Date: 1877/1877
  • Location Created: Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • Provenance: Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, sale no. 2531, Item no. 17, March 16, 1967; Chrysler Art Museum of Provincetown, Massachusetts, 1969; Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., 1971.
  • Physical Dimensions: 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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