Alexander Pope


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Painter and sculptor. He specialized in animal subjects but is most admired today for grandiose trompe-l'oeil still life paintings. Most depict dead game and hunting paraphernalia, but some are devoted to military items. Born in Dorchester (now part of Boston), Pope remained in the area all his life. He probably studied briefly with William Rimmer, but considered himself self-taught. Illustrations of animals for two lithographic portfolios (1878 and 1882) and carvings of both living animals and dead game launched a highly successful career. He began to paint in oils in 1883 and became popular for portraits of prizewinning livestock, racehorses, and pets. Particularly during the last two decades of his life, he also painted likenesses of people. Between 1887 and 1900 he produced large still lifes, evidently inspired by William Harnett's example. These elaborate representations of sensitively arranged items, illusionistically deployed against vertical supports, emulate Harnett's deceptive actuality, rich old master coloration, and serious demeanor. Pope also painted several unconventional trompe-l'oeil works depicting chickens or dogs seemingly caged in wood crates behind wire mesh. From 1903 Pope resided in Hingham but retained his Boston studio.

Subjects: Art.

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