William Michael Harnett
American, born Ireland,
Still Life with Universal Gazetteer
North America, American, Pennsylvania
7 7/8 in. x 11 7/8 in. (20 cm x 30.16 cm)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, The Blount Collection
Currently On View
"Still Life with Universal Gazetteer" is one of many variations on Harnett’s writer’s or banker’s table compositions. Most commonly, the paintings include one or more books, an open letter that is partially legible, money, an ink well, and a quill. In the case of "Universal Gazetteer," the painting is a writer’s desk with a worn copy of the bound Volume One of the reference "Universal Gazetteer."
Works such as this one were designed to appeal to the artist's primary patrons, who have been identified as largely self-made, wealthy businessmen. For these patrons, the objects seen here would have been familiar accoutrements of everyday life.
American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, cat. no. 21, p. 72.