Although generally surmised that Skeele was a largely self-taught painter, her still lifes show such control of the brush and strength of composition that it has been speculated that she may have received some instruction by Sarah Miriam Peale, or at the least inspired by this celebrated Saint Louis painter. Skeele was born in Portland, Maine, but it was not until her move to Saint Louis, Missouri sometime in the 1850’s that she began to exhibit her still lifes and pictures of animals. In 1871 Skeele returned to Maine, where she settled in Portland and concentrated primarily on portraiture.
Rare is it to see an exquisite and competent trompe l’oeil painting by an early American female artist such as Grapes by Harriet (Hannah) Skeele. During her lifetime she exhibited frequently while living in Saint Louis, Missouri, winning awards, and generating a following of collectors who compared her paintings to those by Sarah Peale. Today, her paintings are prized by collectors who understand the time period and singularity of a work like this by a woman at this time frame.
Private Collection, New Jersey