After the Hunt (1883)
William Harnett (1848-92)
oil on canvas, 52 1/2 x 34 in.
One of the great American still-life painters of the 19th century, Harnett executed After the Hunt
in 1883 during a four-year period of study in Munich. The meticulously rendered, life-size objects with their different textures contribute to the tromp l'oeil (trick the eye) effect of the composition.
This painting is the first version of four depicting dead game and antique hunting gear hung as trophies on a wooden door. These large, compositionally sophisticated pictures marked a shift in the artist's style away from small, table-top still lifes. They also explore the relationship between the present and the past, here expressed through the contrast between the freshly killed birds and the antique instruments of the hunt that hang with them.