William Michael Harnett
American, born Ireland,
Lobster and Pester Lloyd
Northern Europe, German
13 1/2 in. x 16 1/2 in. (34.29 cm x 41.91 cm)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, The Blount Collection
Currently On View
Harnett was an established still-life painter when he went to London in 1880, intending further study there. Instead he was invited to Munich, where he remained for the next four years. While he apparently did not study formally, he had ample exposure to the work of the European Old Masters, particularly that of the Dutch seventeenth-century still-life painters.
Dated 1882, this work is a variation of Harnett’s known lobster and still-life paintings made in Munich. The newspaper and objects surrounding the lobster differ slightly in each of these paintings. The newspaper in this work, the "Pester Lloyd", was founded in 1854 and had a liberal slant. The paper was one of the foremost of its day in terms of shaping public opinion, and was regarded as a reliable source of economic information on countries in Eastern and Central Europe. The newspaper was clearly a resource for the monied merchant or business class, and it is at home among candied delicacies and fine liqueurs. Each of the lobster and newspaper combination paintings appear to have been intended for specific clients, who would have commissioned them from the artist.
American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, cat. no. 20, p. 72.