1806 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 United States 215.563.4887
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The Old Violin

Origin England
Period 19th Century
Materials Oil on canvas
W. 20 in; H. 30 in;
W. 50.8 cm; H. 76.2 cm;
Creation Date 1911
Description The composition of this painting is clearly derived from William Michael Harnett’s The Old Violin an astonishingly realistic, life-scale trompe l’oeil painting that created a sensation when it was exhibited at the Thirteenth Cincinnati Industrial Exposition in 1886 and at the Second Minneapolis Industrial Exposition the following year.

James W. Brook closely adhered to Harnett’s composition, and placed the design elements such as the violin, curled sheets of music, bow, rusty door hinge, door pull, envelope, and newspaper clipping in nearly identical positions. Obviously a skilled trompe l’oeil painter, he adeptly reproduced the violin’s worn surface, the powdered rosin above its bridge, the vertical crack that runs through the door, the missing rivet on the upper door hinge, the shadows that fall across the sheet music, and even the dog-eared corners of the newspaper clipping and envelope.

This painting is noteworthy because it demonstrates that Tuchfarber’s chromolithograph of Harnett’s The Old Violin was known in Great Britain and that the image’s popularity transcended national boundaries.
Styles / Movements Trompe l'oeil
Dealer Reference Number RS 5327
Incollect Reference Number 124570
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