American Painter, 1856-1933
was a 19th century American painter in the trompe l'oeil (literally, "fool the eye") style. His still lifes of ordinary objects are painted in such a way that the painting can be mistaken for the objects themselves. He is considered one of the three major figures??together with William Harnett and John F. Peto??practicing this form of still life painting in the United States in the last quarter of the 19th century. A Bachelor's Drawer by John Haberle, 1890?C94, oil on canvas, 50.8 x 91.4 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkHaberle was born in New Haven, Connecticut; his parents were Swiss immigrants. At the age of 14 he left school to apprentice with an engraver. He also worked for many years as an exhibit preparator for the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University. His career as a painter began in 1887. His style is characterized by a meticulous rendering of two-dimensional objects. He is especially noted for his depictions of paper objects, including currency. Art historian Alfred Frankenstein has contrasted Haberle's work with that of his contemporaries: Peto is moved by the pathos of used-up things. Haberle is wry and wacky, full of bravado, self-congratulating virtuosity, and sly flamboyance. He works largely within an old tradition, that of the trompe l'oeil still life in painted line ... It is poles away from Harnett's sumptuosity, careful balances, and well-modeled volumes, and is equally far from Peto's sensitivity in matters of tone and hue.