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Monday, May 7, 2012

Offering of the Day: The Artist's Palette of John Haberle, a 19th century master of Still Life Painting

 John Haberle (American, 1856-1933)
The Artist’s Palette, c. 1890 - 95
Oil on panel with collage elements including paint brushes and palette knife
The panel decorated with pyrography, depicting a fanciful night scene with putti, shooting stars, mermaid and animals
18 1/2 x 27 7/8 inches

Provenance: Private Collection; Berry-Hill, New York; Property of a New York Family; Arader Galleries

Kennedy Galleries, Inc., Catalog exhibition, American Still lifes 19th & 20th c., Kennedy Quarterly, v. XI, no.2, Nov 1971, p. 109, (84)
Sill, Gertrude Grace. John Haberle Master of Illusion. Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1985. p. 28
Sill, Gertrude Grace. John Haberle American Master of Illusion. New Britain Museum of American Art, 2009. p. 72.

Kennedy Galleries, Inc., John Haberle (1856-1933), An Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Watercolors, June 8, July 15, 1970, no. 17
Fort Worth, Texas, Amon Carter Museum, "John Haberle Master of Illusion ," November 29, 1985- January 19, 1986

A contemporary of the likes of William Michael Harnett and John Frederick Peto, John Haberle (1856-1933) is the third artist in the triumvirate that would dominate tromp l’oeil painting in America during the nineteenth century. Depicting common household items with such intense accuracy, John Haberle’s artistic process was so time consuming that he was only able to complete forty paintings during his lifetime.  A master of illusionistic renderings, he was even once ordered by the Secret Service to stop painting United States legal tender or risk being prosecuted on charges of counterfeiting.    

Passed down in the Haberle family collection for four generations, The Artist’s Palette (1890) is unique within Haberle's oeuvre in that it features elaborate pyrographic decoration along with his actual brushes and palette knife affixed to the background - no other work by Haberle is known to have included actual (rather than painted) objects.  This work is a masterpiece in that in that is suggests a degree of intimacy and playfulness, effectively blurring the barrier between that which is real and that which is represented.  Arguably this work could even be said to anticipate 20th century ‘ready-mades,’ as later made famous by such artists as Marcel Duchamp.

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