George Fuller

(17 January 1822 - 21 March 1884)

American figure and portrait painter. Fuller was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts. His father, Aaron Fuller, was a farmer. His mother was Aaron's second wife, Fanny Negus of Petersham, Massachusetts. His parents were not in favor of Fuller becoming a painter. At age thirteen, he went to Boston, Massachusetts to work for a grocer, then tried selling shoes before giving up on this also and returning home. A year or so later, he went to Illinois with a survey team for the railroad, and continued working with the survey team for a couple of years. Fuller then returned home once again, entered Deerfield Academy, and began to paint in his spare time.

In 1841, his desire to paint overcame his parents' opposition. He joined his half-brother Augustus as an itinerant painter, and enjoyed some success painting portraits in northern New York. That winter he went to Albany where he studied painting with Henry Kirke Brown for nine months. The next two winters, he studied painting with the Boston Artists' Association, working on the family farm in the summers. In 1846 he sold 'A Nun at Confession' for six dollars. In 1847, he enrolled in the National Academy of Design in New York. He spent most of the next ten years in New York. Some winters he spent in the southern United States painting portraits and scenes about local life. Friends included painter E.T. Billings, with whom he travelled in the south. In 1857 he was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design.

His father died in 1859, and he became aware that he would eventually need to return to the family farm to support his family. In January 1860 he began five month a tour of Europe with friends during which they visited London, Paris, Florence, Rome, and Venice. He married Agnes Higginson of Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1861 and brought her home to the Deerfield farm. For the next fifteen years, he worked the farm and painted in his spare time in a studio converted form a carriage house. His farm failed in 1875, and he turned to painting for his livelihood.

In the spring of 1876, the opening of his first art exhibition relaunched his career as a painter. In 1878 the National Academy exhibition included his 'Turkey Pasture in Kentucky' and 'By the Wayside'. The following year he sent to the Academy 'And She Was a Witch' and 'The Romany Girl'. He sent more pictures to the Academy in 1881 as his reputation and commercial success grew.

In 1878, Fuller showed the oil painting, 'Reapers Resting', as his first exhibited at the Boston Art Club. Subsequently at the Boston Art Club, he exhibited one oil painting, 'Head', in 1880; one oil painting, 'Portrait of Miss A___' in 1881; three oil paintings: 'Study Head', 'Portrait of Miss F.', and 'Maidenhood', at the 1882 Boston Art Club exhibition; and the final oil painting he exhibited at the Club, 'Portrait of Miss C.', was January 19-February 16, 1884.

His work continued to enjoy success until his death March 21, 1884, of pneumonia. A memorial exhibition of his works was held at the Boston Museum of the Fine Arts in 1884.

Examples of Fuller's artwork reside in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

[Wikipedia, Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 11, 1911, Fuller, George]

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Self-portrait ca.1840 *ca. 1855 ca. 1865 George Fuller Portrait **Fuller Portrait
*Bust of George Fuller, attributed to sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward.
**Portrait of George Fuller by William Baxter Closson.

American figure and portrait painter, was born at Deerfield, Massachusetts, in 1822. At the age of twenty he entered the studio of the sculptor H. K. Brown, at Albany, New York, where he drew from the cast and modelled heads. Having attained some proficiency he went about the country painting portraits, settling at length in Boston, where he studied the works of the earlier Americans, Stuart, Copley and Allston. After three years in that city, and twelve in New York, where in 1857 he was elected a member of the National Academy of Design, he went to Europe for a brief visit and for study. During all this time his work had received little recognition and practically no financial encouragement, and on his return he settled on the family farm at Deerfield, where he continued to work in his own way with no thought of the outside world. In 1876, however, he was forced by pressing needs to dispose of his work, and be sent some pictures to a dealer in Boston, where he met with immediate success, financial and artistic, and for the remaining eight years of his life he never lacked patrons. He died in Boston on the 21st of March 1884. He was a poetic painter, and a dreamer of delicate fancies and quaint, intangible phases of nature, his canvases being usually enveloped in a brown mist that renders the outlines vague. Among his noteworthy canvases are: “The Turkey Pasture,” “Romany Girl,” “And she was a Witch,” “Nydia,” “Winifred Dysart” and “The Quadroon.”

[Encyclopædia Britannica/Fuller, George, 1911]

Born at Deerfield, Mass., 1822. At the age of twenty he modeled a head or two, and drew from casts in the studio of H. K. Brown at Albany, N. Y., for six months, profiting greatly by the fellowship and advice of that artist. Later he painted portraits in several country towns, and settled in Boston at the end of three years, studying the works of Stuart, Copley, and Allston. He also received instruction in the Boston Art Association. He lived in New York for twelve years, and went to Europe in the winter of 1859, spending eight months in the art centers of the Continent and in London. Between 1860 and 1876 he devoted himself to study in this country, without instruction, and did not paint for the public until the latter year, when he took some of his landscapes and ideal heads to Boston, of which the Art Journal of July, 1877, says: "One canvas, representing some women washing at a trough, shaded by wide-spread trees, is full of delicacy and of pleasant suggestiveness." In 1857 he was elected an Associate of the National Academy, and exhibited the following spring a successful portrait of H. K. Brown, owned by Morris Davis of Philadelphia. "Turkey Pasture in Kentucky" and "By the Wayside," two of the most important of his later pictures, were on exhibition at Boston in the winter of 1878. His studio is now in that city.

"The poetry of incident in the few canvases of George Fuller which profess to tell a story, is of the most simple and tender kind. Its heroes and heroines are almost always children, for whom he seems to have as great a love as Edward Friere, whom at times he resembles in treatment as well as in subject." -- Three Boston Painters, December, 1877.

[Artists of the Nineteenth Century and their Works, Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, 1879.]

A Steamboat Race on the Mississippi
This is a dramatic night scene of a steam-boat race that actually occurred in March of 1858. It shows the Baltic and the Diana running neck and neck, cheered on by raftsmen leisurely floating down the river. The steam-boats left New Orleans within two minutes of each other, remaining within sight for most of the 1,382 miles to Louisville. It was one of the most exciting races during the steam-boat era, the Baltic winning this race. Printmaker: A. Weingartner's Lith. NY. Publishers: M. Knoedler, New York, published in 1859, and Goupil & Co., London and Paris; prior to the first of several Currier & Ives Mississippi steam-boat prints.

FULLER, George, American artist: b. Deerfield, Mass., 1822; d. Brookline, Mass., 21 March 1884. He went to Illinois in 1836, and, having developed a taste for painting, studied in 1842 under Henry Kirke Brown, at Albany, N. Y. After working in Boston for a few years, he went to New York, where in 1857 his portrait of his former teacher, Mr. Brown, the first of his works to attract notice, gained him an election as associate of the National Academy. He spent eight months in European study and travel in 1859 and then retired to his farm at Deerfield, using his art only for recreation, till financial reverses in 1873 forced him to take it up again as a profession. About 1876 his pictures began to be noticed for their peculiar handling, richness of tone and a dreaminess of conception which, when admired at all, was admired very thoroughly. A memorial exhibition of his works was held at the Boston Museum of the Fine Arts in 1884. His contributions to the National Academy exhibitions include ‘The Turkey-Pasture, Kentucky’ (1878); ‘The Dandelion Girl’; ‘The Romany Girl’ (1879); ‘The Quadroon’ (1880). To the exhibitions of the Society of American Artists he sent ‘Priscilla Fauntleroy’ (1882); ‘Nydia’ (1883). Other works of his are ‘Cupid’ (1854); ‘Negro Nurse, with a Child’ (1861); ‘At the Bars’ (1865); ‘Shearing the Donkey’ (1879); ‘And She was a Witch’ (1879); ‘The Gatherer of Simples’ (1880); ‘Winifred Dysart’ (1881); ‘Psyche’ (1882); ‘November’ (1884); ‘Fedalma’ (1884); ‘Arethusa’ (1884) and numerous portraits. He left an unfinished picture representing a trial for witchcraft in the early days of New England.

[Consult Isham, ‘History of American Painting’ (New York 1905) and the biography by Millet (Boston 1886).]
[The Encyclopedia Americana]