Morris Hirshfield Tiger 1940

  • Not on view

Perhaps influenced by the artist's work in textile manufacturing, the highly textured surface of this painting recalls the tactility of fabrics, and its repeating forms, symmetrical composition, thick outlines, and bold colors evoke the patterning and print motifs often seen on textiles. Hirshfield placed the tiger—based on an illustration in a children's book—within an imaginary and highly stylized natural landscape, transforming a simple image into what MoMA's founding director, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., called the most "unforgettable animal picture."

Gallery label from 2011.
Additional text

In 1939 art collector and dealer Sidney Janis stumbled upon a painting by Morris Hirshfield tucked out of view in a New York gallery. He immediately asked to borrow two works by the artist to include in the exhibition Contemporary Unknown American Painters, which he was organizing for The Museum of Modern Art. This was the first public exposure for Hirshfield, a self-taught painter who had only begun making art after retiring at age sixty-five from a career in textile and shoe manufacturing. In 1941, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., MoMA's founding director, acquired Tiger and Girl in a Mirror for the Museum, and he organized a monographic exhibition of Hirshfield's work at MoMA two years later. In its early years the Museum was committed to collecting and exhibiting the work of self-taught artists, exploring and bringing to the public what Barr considered to be a "tributary of one of the main streams of modern taste."

Gallery label from 2011.
Oil on canvas
28 x 39 7/8" (71.1 x 101.3 cm)
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund
Object number
© 2024 Estate of Morris Hirshfield/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].