Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Haruspex

  • William Harper, Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Haruspex, 1990, gold, sterling silver, cloisonné enamel, opal, pearl, coral, shell, carapace, Smithsonian American Art Museum, © 1990, William Harper, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance and museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, 1991.137

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A haruspex was a diviner or soothsayer in ancient Rome who "read" the future from the entrails of sacrificial animals. In Self-Portrait the shape of the inlaid coral spills out like entrails, while the features of the cloisonne face symbolize the artist's condition. The blackened left eye represents William Harper's blindness, and the protrusion from the forehead (the "carapace," or protective covering) is a metaphorical shield from his painful migraines. This is one of a series of self-portraits showing Harper as a mystic from different cultures.
Title
Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Haruspex
Artist
Date
1990
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
11 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 2 1/4 in. (29.2 x 6.4 x 5.8 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the James Renwick Alliance and museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program

Mediums
Mediums Description
gold, sterling silver, cloisonné enamel, opal, pearl, coral, shell, carapace
Classifications
Keywords
  • Portrait male – Harper, William – full length
  • Portrait male – Harper, William – self-portrait
  • Dress – accessory – hat
  • Occupation – religion – clergy
  • Occupation – art – artist
  • Abstract
Object Number
1991.137
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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gold cloisonne enamel on fine silver with 24, 22, 18, and 14k gold, pearls, garnets, tourmaline, and peridot
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