William Michael Harnett
American, born Ireland, 1848-1892
For Sunday's Dinner, 1888
Oil on canvas
94.3 x 53.6 cm (37 1/8 x 21 1/8 in.)
Signed, lower left: "Harnett/1888"
Wilson L. Mead Fund, 1958.296
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 his throat cut and most of his feathers plucked—a few downy spots remain, contrasting with his 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; it is an unpolished, homey meal that nostalgically hints at a simpler past.
— Permanent collection label
New York, National Academy of Design, Seventh Autumn Exhibition, Nov. 19-Dec. 15, 1888, cat. 44.
Phliadelphia, Wanamaker's Department Store, late 1888/early 1889.
La Jolla Museum of Art, The Reminiscent Object, Paintings by William Michael Harnett, John Frederick Peto, and John Haberle, July 11-Sept. 19, 1965, cat. 21; traveled to Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Sept. 28-Oct. 31, 1965.
Philadelphia, Peale Galleries of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Two Illusionist Painters, William Michael Harnett and John Frederick Peto, Mar. 11-Apr. 17, 1966, cat. 2.
New York City, Coe Kerr Gallery, One Hundred-Fifty Years of American Still-Life Painting, Apr. 27-May 16, 1970, cat. 32.
Sacramento, E.B. Crocker Art Gallery, Munich and American Realism in the Nineteenth Century, Oct. 28-Dec. 10, 1970, cat. 37.
New York City, Metropolitan Museum of Art, William H. Harnett, Mar. 16-June 14, 1992; traveled to Ft. worth, Amon Carter Museum, July 17-Oct. 18, 1992, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Nov. 14, 1992-Feb. 14, 1993, Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Mar. 14-June 13, 1993 (New York only).
Alfred Frankenstein, After the Hunt, William Harnett and other American Still Life Painters, 1870-1900 (Berkley, University of California Press, 1953), no. 116.
Frederick A. Sweet, “Two Americans Paint a Still-Life,” Quarterly of The Art Institute of Chicago, 52, 4 (Dec. 1958) pp. 95-99 (ill.).
Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), p. 210.
Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago (The Art Institute of Chicago, 1968), p. 216.
William H. Gerdts et al., American Still-Life Painting (Praeger, 1971), pl. XVI.
Art Institute of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, One Hundred Masterpieces (Rand McNally and R.R. Donnelley, 1978), p. 105 (ill.).
Art Institute of Chicago. Pocketguide to The Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1983), p. 37, no. 51.
Tom Armstrong, “The New Field-McCormick Galleries in the Art Institute of Chicago,” Magazine Antiques, 134, 4 (Oct. 1988), pp. 822-35, pl. XVIII.
Art Institute of Chicago, Master Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago (Little, Brown, and Company, 1988), p. 96 (ill.).
Doreen Bolger et al., William M. Hartnett (Abrams, 1992), pp. 57, 80, 88, 95, 166, 282, pl. 42.
Judith A. Barter et al., American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Art Institute of Chicago, 1998).
John Hedges, Philadelphia, (not documented). Joann Kolodny, Baltimore, by 1953. L. Manuel Hendler, Baltimore; Baltimore Museum of Art, from 1957 to 1958; M. Knoedler and Company, New York City, 1958; sold to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1958.