Here is one of my favorite paintings. It’s entitled “The Old Violin.” I’ve liked it since first grade, when it hung on the wall of the Music Room at Glendover Elementary School. Our music teacher Miss Haney passed on to us a love of music and even a surprising amount of music theory, such as the melodic themes of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” She had six toes. It’s odd the things we remember. I remember more of my teachers from elementary school than I can the rest of school. She asked the class one day to name their favorite song. The majority said “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” a big hit for B.J. Thomas in 1969.
Glendover was run like a military school by Principal Bess Roberts. She would grab you by the ears and shake the living daylights out of you while administering a deadly Vulcan pinch. I landed in her office on more than one occasion where she proudly displayed her paddle with holes drilled in it to increase the velocity of the swing and ferociousness of the sting. Once I stole a poor kid’s chocolate bar and sat it on the filmstrip projector, which melted it, ruining both the candy bar and the projector. Another time we filled the heater blowers with those little round circles of paper that you get out of hole punchers. When we suggested to the class nerd that he go turn the heat on, the room was filled with paper punch graffiti. There are many more tales of my “Wonder Years” childhood at Glendover. But enough stream of consciousness babble for now. I’ll just summarize by saying that although we thought Glendover was a harsh place at the time, looking back, I believe I got one of the best elementary educations that I could ask for, er, for which I could ask. Enjoy the painting…
William Michael Harnett (1848-1892)
Oil on canvas
24″ x 3′ 2″
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Harnett innovated a trompe l’oeil (“trick the eye”) style of painting still lifes, in which he made everyday objects look hyper-realistic.
Let me throw out a question for discussion…Which style of paintings and artists do you admire most–those who lean more torwards realism or towards more interpretive styles, such as impressionism?