Jefferson David Chalfant (American painter) 1856 - 1931
Chalfant was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania but moved in young adulthood to Wilmington, Delaware, where he would spend the rest of his life. Employed by a commercial firm as a painter of parlor car interiors, he began his activity as a fine artist in the early 1880s. Although he had no formal training, he quickly developed a fine technique. His early works are mostly still lifes and landscapes, which sold well to private collectors. Chalfant exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design, and elsewhere. In 1890 he was able to travel to Paris for two years, where he studied figure painting under Adolphe-William Bouguereau and Jules Joseph Lefebvre. This served him well during a career in which he painted genre, portraits and other subjects, but it is his still lifes which may be his signal achievement. His still lifes are painted in the illusionistic trompe l'oeil (literally, "fool the eye") manner popularized in the late nineteenth century by William Michael Harnett. Harnett inspired many followers, the best known being John F. Peto, but few if any had Chalfant's technical finesse. Often, Chalfant's compositions closely follow prototypes by Harnett, but Chalfant usually simplifies, eliminating secondary objects and details. An example is his Violin and Bow (1889) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.