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The Old Violin by William Harnett
The Old Violin by William Harnett

The Old Violin, 1886

William Harnett

This still life is deceptively simple: a violin, a sheet of music, a small newspaper clipping, and a blue envelope, shown against a green wooden door. But in the tradition of still lifes, the painting holds multi–layered meanings about the relationships between illusion and reality, old and new, and momentary and enduring. At the heart of such meanings is the fleeting nature of time, which the artist alludes to by showing signs of wear and age throughout the painting: the rusty hinges, the curling sheet music, the rosin-dusted violin. The violin, though silent, speaks evocatively of past pleasures.

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Credit
National Gallery of Art
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