HARNETT, William Michael
(b. 1848, Clonakilty, d. 1892, New York)

Materials for a Leisure Hour

1879
Oil on canvas, 38 x 52 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

William Harnett developed the trompe-l'oeil technique in American painting This early work shows the style and technique which made him popular. Using a carefully arranged and balanced composition he creates a seemingly casual image: a table bearing a number of domestic objects. The attention to detail with which he captures each object and its textures and reflections is combined with the sense of immediacy and instantaneity conferred by the pipe smoke, the burning matches and the breadcrumbs scattered on the table.