Claude Raguet Hirst


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Painter. The only woman among significant late-nineteenth-century trompe-l'oeil still life specialists, she sensitively adapted William Harnett's tabletop groupings of books, objets d'art, antiques, and other costly bric-a-brac. Interestingly, she often included items such as pipes, tobacco, and matches, which at that time signified a masculine realm. Although most of her works are small, as suits the watercolor medium she preferred, she overcame its challenges to achieve astonishing verisimilitude. Born in Cincinnati and named Claudine, she grew up in the suburb of Clayton, Ohio. In the 1870s she studied at the University of Cincinnati's art school (now the Art Academy of Cincinnati) before moving to New York, where she worked privately with several artists. In early work, she concentrated on fruit and flower compositions. Soon after Harnett returned from Europe in 1886, Hirst abruptly switched to arrangements of man-made artifacts. No doubt his influence was direct and personal, as he occupied a neighboring studio on Fourteenth Street. Although she exhibited regularly for several decades, at the time of her death in New York she lived in obscure poverty. In 1901 Hirst married landscape painter William Crothers Fitler (1857–1915), a tonalist known for poetic interpretations of nature, primarily in watercolor and monotype. Born in Philadelphia, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before settling permanently in New York around 1880.

Subjects: Art.

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