John Haberle (1853–1933)

One Dollar Bill, 1890

Oil on canvas, 8 × 10 in. (20.3 × 25.4 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2015.4

John Haberle, master of trompe l’oeil painting, was particularly well known for his still-life paintings of currency. His One Dollar Bill features a single silver-dollar certificate, first circulated in the 1870s as part of a shift away from the gold standard in American currency. Although banks initially were not required to honor these certificates—a compromise with those who supported gold—the bill featured in Haberle’s detailed painting appears worn, suggesting frequent use. The first US Treasury–issued currency to display the image of a woman, the silver-dollar certificate featured an engraving after a 1796 portrait of Martha Washington. One Dollar Bill is a multifaceted visual pun that shifts from still life to celebrity portrait to reproduction of a famous painting, inviting viewers to consider the roles of wealth and artistic reproduction in nineteenth-century American visual culture.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.