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For Sunday's Dinner

William Michael Harnett

For Sunday's Dinner

William Michael Harnett
  • Date: 1888
  • Style: Realism
  • Genre: still life, trompe-l'œil
  • Media: oil
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Still-life painter William Michael Harnett excelled at trompe l’oeil, painting that, through realistic depiction, fools the eye. In For Sunday’s Dinner, a rooster hangs illusionistically in front of a painted door with its throat cut and most of its feathers plucked—a few downy spots remain, contrasting with its puckered, pimpled flesh. The metal door hinges, on the right side of the canvas, frame the rooster and echo his form. The painting’s title and the rough, blemished surface of the door suggest a country dinner rather than sophisticated urban fare; the unpolished, homey meal nostalgically hints at a simpler past. (Permanent collection label, Art Institute of Chicago)

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