During his career as an artist Victor Dubreuil produced an obsessive amount of satirical still lifes depicting money. His exacting style of painting is related to that of his contemporaries John Haberle, William Harnett and other American painters who painted in the trompe l'oeil style, but it can be said that his style is more humorous and inventive.
Barrels of Money is an alluring still life, depicting several barrels overflowing with United States currency. The viewer is presented with the illusion of un-obtainable riches, a fortune for a man of the turn of the century. Dubreuil toys with the viewers' desires for a better life, tempting them with fortune. We can only speculate that while painting this picture Dubreuil may have wanted to touch upon the struggle between wealth and poverty in American society. He was a frequent visitor at the Old Dickens House, a bar in Manhattan, located at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 38th Street; it is said that he often paid his bills with his paintings because of a lack of money. Barrels of Money may be a reflection of Dubreuil's own dream and desire for wealth.
It is worth noting that the United States Secretary of Treasury must have seen Victor Dubreuil as a threat to the nation and the artist may have been seriously suspected of participating in counterfeiting the U.S. dollar. A larger version of Barrels of Money was confiscated by the secret service and then held for several years under lock and key. The real reason for this is still undisclosed and the original painting has since been destroyed under a 1909 mandate, but several versions still exist, Barrels of Money being one of them.