Last week I asked if anyone could identify the money painting on the cover of the new book Sovereign of the Market by Jeffrey Sklansky.
Christopher Fuccione writes:
"Is it an 1891 large-size $1 Treasury Note?"
I believe so, but who painted the image?
Brad Karoleff writes:
"My first GUESS on the money painting would be Harnett, but it does look a little loose to be his......"
Harnett's a good guess, but we're not there yet.
Rob Luton found this by artist Victor Dubreuil at Heritage.
One of the sub-genres of nineteenth-century American trompe-l'oeil painting was money painting, i.e., ultra-realistic, actual-scale renderings of coin but primarily of currency. By virtue of its paper thinness, currency could truly appear, through a painter's ability, to be the real thing pasted directly onto the surface of a canvas or a board. This type of imagery grew out of the work of the dean of trompe l'oeil painters, William Michael Harnett, who popularized a more "masculine" type of still-life imagery in the United States during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. His paintings included a rather wide array of motifs such as dead game and hunting gear, smoking and drinking paraphernalia, stacks of books, newspapers, letter racks, musical instruments, guns, and even money which immediately conjured environments such as dens and studies, business offices, banks, taverns and clubs, hunting lodges, and other nineteenth-century male domains. Harnett's imagery, and the success it awarded him among businessman clients who purchased these subjects, spawned specialists. Among them were those who painted money, such as John Haberle of New Haven, Connecticut, who was highly versatile and painted many other subjects as well, and Victor Dubreuil of New York City who painted little else.
Dubreuil remains a rather shadowy figure in the history of trompe-l'oeil still life painting, since little of his biography has been traced. He may have been the son of a French couple, Aime T. and Caroline Ferraro Dubreuil, who emigrated to New York around 1847 (Old Money: American Trompe L'Oeil Images of Currency, exh. cat., Berry-Hill Galleries, New York, 1988, p. 70). His birth and death dates remain unknown, but his base of operation in New York is circumstantial. As Alfred Frankenstein noted, "In the 1890's he frequented a saloon known as the Dickens House at 38th Street and Seventh Avenue in New York. He traded some of his pictures for food there, and some of these pictures, which have survived, contain letters addressed to the artist on West 43rd and West 44th Streets. For at least some time, then, he drifted about the Times Square neighborhood" (The Reality of Appearance: The Trompe L'Oeil Tradition in American Painting, exh. cat., Berkeley, 1970, p. 144).
To read the complete lot description, see:
The Hon Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. Collection. VICTOR DUBREUIL (American, circa 1880-1900). American Paper Currency, circa ...
Close, but no cigar. We're still looking for the exact painting on the book cover. With a Google image search, I hit paydirt. It's another Dubreuil. See the earlier article (linked below) from January.
Is It Real
by Victor Dubreuil
"Is It Real?", was painted around 1890, and was given to the Allen Memorial Art Museum (which is part of Oberlin College) by Charles F. Olney. It's on display so you can see the original if you're in town!"
Christopher Fuccione adds:
"Cool! I might buy a print of that for my room."
Thanks, everyone. Numismatic detective work is fun.
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
THE MONEY ART OF VICTOR DUBREUIL
NEW BOOK: SOVEREIGN OF THE MARKET
Wayne Homren, Editor
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