William Harnett

Mallard Drake Hanging


1883 – 1948
Hastings Collection, Munich, Germany, and USA;

Ms. Rogers, née Hastings, by inheritance; her children, by inheritance [1]

1948 – June 1948
Elizabeth Spohn (1897–1986), Pearl River, New York, USA, purchased from Ms. Rogers' children [2]

June 1948 – 1953/07/28
Downtown Gallery (Edith G. Halpert), New York, USA, purchased from Ms. Spohn [3]

1953/07/28 –
Dalzell Hatfield Gallery, Los Angeles, USA, purchased from the Downtown Gallery [4]

by 1960
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, United States [5]

1961/04/19 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from Hirschl & Adler [6]

[1] In a letter to J.G. Butler III, Director of The Butler Art Institute in Youngstown Ohio, Elizabeth Gardener of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, wrote in May 1951, with reference to Harnett's The Mallard Drake Hanging and the Merganser Fish Duck:“Both paintings were done in Munich in 1883 for a Mr. Hastings as decorations for his dining room. They were inherited by his daughter, Mrs. Rogers, and were acquired from her children by Miss Spohn. Miss Spohn brought them in to the Museum to show them to me in 1948 and they were subsequently acquired by Mrs. Halpert [of the Downtown Gallery]” [letter dated May 21, 1951; copy kindly provided by Pat McCormick, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, in an email to Anke Kausch, NGC Provenace Research Project, Dec.6, 2007]. It is not known, when the painting was brought by the Hastings / Rogers family from Germany to the United States.

[2] According to a letter by Edith G. Halpert of the Downtown Gallery to J. G. Butler III of the Butler Institute, dated May 26, 1951, Ms. Spohn was a music teacher, residing in Pearl River, New York. “She [Spohn] told me that she had acquired these pictures from a grandchild of Mr. Hastings, who had commissioned Harnett to paint his favorite subjects for a dining room. They had remained in the possession of the family until Mme. Spohn bought them in 1948.” [copy kindly provided by Pat McCormick in an email to Anke Kausch, Dec.6, 2007]. Halpert's gallery notebook on William Harnett contains a more precise date for the purchase: a note on a photograph of the painting dates its acquisition to June 1948. [Downtown Gallery records, artist notebooks: William Harnett (reels 572–4), Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution].

[3] According to the Downtown Gallery records the Mallard Drake was exhibited at the gallery's “23rd Annual Exhibition” Sept. 28–Oct. 23, 1948 [handwritten note on the back of a photograph of the work, Downtown Gallery records, artist notebooks: William Harnett, reel 5573, frames 308-311, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution]. On July 28, 1953, Halpert sold the painting to the Dalzell Hatfield Gallery, Los Angeles [bill of sale, Downtown Gallery records, sales slips, reel 5627, frame 603].

[4] See note [3].

[5] The NGC first showed interest in the Mallard Drake offered by Hirschl & Adler, New York, in December 1960 [Accession records, NGC curatorial file].

[6] Accession log [NGC curatorial file].

Signed and dated at lower right: W M H (in monogram) ARNETT. / MÜNCHEN. / 1883.

Mallard Drake Hanging
oil on canvas
85.7 x 52.4 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1961
Accession number