Amon Carter print details

Attention, Company!

William M. Harnett (1848-1892)

Object Details

  • Date

    1878

  • Object Type

    Paintings

  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    28 x 36 in.

  • Inscriptions

    Recto:

    signed and dated, u.l.: WMH [monogram] HARNETT \ 1878

  • Credit Line

    Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

  • Accession Number

    1970.230

  • Copyright

    Public domain

Object Description

Known as a painter of gentlemanly still lifes, Harnett executed only one figure painting in his life, this illusionistic study of a child. Even so, he painted the buttons on this coat, the ripped posters, and the boy with equal attention, making even a portrait into a kind of still-life painting.

This painting challenges the notion of Harnett as an artist concerned with the outward appearance of inanimate objects and not with deeper meanings. “I endeavor to make the composition tell a story,” he once said. But what narrative does he offer here in the face of this young boy, frozen at attention as a make-believe soldier, with his tattered clothes, his whimsical newspaper hat, and the inscrutable graffiti-laden wall behind him?

Additional details

Location: On view
W28-artist-CMYK-CarterBlack
See more by William M. Harnett

Tags

Educator Resources
  • How has the purpose, media, and style of portraits changed and/or stayed the same throughout time?

    How has childhood, and the place of childhood in the national imagination, changed throughout time?

    How might the background, clothes, facial expression, and body language depicted in a portrait reveal something about the sitter?

    How might the style, subject, and depiction of the sitter reveal something about the artist who created the portrait?

  • Grades 4–8

    Show students the image Attention, Company! and, as a group, discuss the artwork. Who is the boy in the image? What is he doing? Give students a cinquain poem template and have them write a poem using adjectives that describe this boy and verbs that describe things he might do.

    All Levels

    Activity 1
    Provide students with a small printout of the work of art. Students will glue the image to a larger piece of paper and extend the scene using pencils and colored pencils.

    Activity 2
    Using any media that you may be exploring with your students, have students create a portrait of themselves with a game they enjoy. For older students, have them create a portrait of themselves as younger children with a game from their youth. Example: As a child I often had water-balloon fights with my siblings, so my portrait might be me holding a water balloon in front of our brick house near the water hose.

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