Dubreuil, Victor

Victor Dubreuil

  (Am. 1846-1946)

Very little is known about his life, but his trompe l’oeil (fool-the-eye) still lifes indicates that a primary interest was money, which he painted in numerous ways–in barrels, piles, tidy stacks, and even nose gays and garlands. An explanation for this ever reoccurring subject has been offered by Alfred Frankenstein in his book, “The Reality of Appearance”: “He was obsessed with money, doubtless, because he never had any.” In fact, he painted money so accurately, that he was suspected by government officials of counterfeiting the U.S. dollar bill. One of his paintings, “Barrels of Money,” a copy of an earlier version, was confiscated by the government and kept in security for several years with a mandate that the original be destroyed. He lived on Seventh Street in New York City between 1886 and 1888 and on West 44th Street between 1895 and 1896. He is known to have frequented a saloon, Dickens House, at 38th Street and Seventh Avenue and traded his paintings for food and drink. He also drifted around the Times Square neighborhood, a circumstance that may explain the element of brutality that sometimes appeared in his work such as a painting of Bonnie and Clyde.