James McDougal Hart

(10, May 1828 - October 24, 1901)

Scottish-born American landscape and cattle painter of the Hudson River School. His older brother, William Hart, was also a Hudson River School artist, and the two painted similar subjects.

Hart was born in Kilmarnock, Scotland, and was taken to America with his family in early youth. In Albany, New York he trained with a sign and carriage maker -- possibly the same employer that had taken on his brother in his early career. Unlike his brother, however, James returned to Europe for serious artistic training. He studied in Munich, and was a pupil of Friedrich Wilhelm Schirmer at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He is associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting. Hart returned to America in 1853.

He exhibited his first work at the National Academy of Design in 1848, became an associate in 1857 and a full member in 1859. James Hart was particularly devoted to the National Academy, exhibiting there over a period of more than forty years, and serving as vice president late in his life from 1895 to 1899. Like his brother, he also exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association (he lived for a time in Brooklyn) and at major exhibitions around the country.


Along with most of the major landscape artists of the time, Hart based his operations in New York City and adopted the style of the Hudson River School. While James Hart and his brother William often painted similar landscape subjects, James may have been more inclined to paint exceptionally large works. An example is 'The Old Homestead' (1862), 42x68 inches, in the collection of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. James may have been exposed to large paintings while studying in Düsseldorf, a center of realist art pedagogy that also shaped the practices of Albert Bierstadt and Worthington Whittredge. William Hart, who did not seek academic European training, seems to have been more comfortable painting small and mid-sized works.

Kevin J. Avery writes, "the bovine subjects that once distinguished [his works] now seem the embodiment of Hart's artistic complacency." (American Drawings and Watercolors in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Volume I: A Catalogue of Works by Artists Born Before 1835) . In contrast with the complacency of some of his cattle scenes, his major landscape paintings are considered important works of the Hudson River School. A particularly fine example is 'Summer in the Catskills', now in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, Spain.




Born in Kilmarnock, Scotland, 1828. Brother of William Hart. As a child, he was taken to America by his parents, who settled in Albany, N. Y. Here he entered the shop of a coachmaker, working with his brother as a decorator in the same establishment for some years, until he displayed decided talents for art of a higher character, and became a landscape-painter. In 1851 he went to Dusstddorf, spending a year in the studio of Schirmer. He painted in Albany for four years, and opened a studio in New York in 1856, where he still resides (in 1878). In 1857 he was elected Associate of the National Academy, and Academician in 1859. Among James Hart's works are:
"Cattle going Home";
"Moonrise in the Adirondack";
"Autumn in the Woods";
"Sunday Afternoon in Berkshire County";
"Winter on the Adirondacks" (1871);
"Peaceful Homes" (1872);
"In the Orchard" and
"A Breezy Day on the Road"' (1874);
"Coming Out,"
"Buck and Bright," and
"Landscape and Cattle" (1875);
"Among Friends" (1876);
"Threatening Weather" and
"In the Pasture, -- Morning" (1877);
"In the Autumn Woods," (1878), belonging to Rush C. Hawkins.
"Indian Summer" and
"Summer Memory of Berkshire" were at the Paris Exposition of 1878.
"On the Croton" belongs to Launt Thompson;
"Mid-summer's Day" and
"Morning in the Adirondacks," belongs to M. 0. Roberts.
"Summer on the Boquet River" is in the Stewart Gallery.
"A Summer Memory of Berkshire" belongs to E. D. Morgan;
"Landscape and Cattle," belongs to J. H. Sherwood.
"Trout Brook in the Adirondacks" and
"A Misty Morning" were in the Johnston Collection (sold in 1876);
"View at Framingham," in oil, belongs to S. V. Wright.
He was commended by the judges at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876.

"In James M. Hart's studies of cattle the same easiness is apparent which is so attractive in his more simple landscapes, and when the two are united the most delightful harmony is observed in every detail. 'The Summer on Boquet River' shows throughout a thorough knowledge of the properties of light and shade, of atmosphere and perspective, and in gradations of color the result is masterly." -- Art Journal, June, 1875.

"Mr. James Hart was represented by a single picture, 'A Summer Memory of Berkshire,' which was an agreeable rendition of quiet pastoral landscape." -- Prof. Weir's Official Report of the American Centennial Exhibition of 1876.

"James M. Hart has long been remarkable for his cattle, and he seems to be one of our painters with improvement and progress in him. His 'Autumn Woods' (1877) is an excellent piece of work as to the cows that defile out from the trees, nor will it prove displeasing in respect to the leafage and background." -- New York Times, January 26.



The younger brother of William Hart, James moved with his family from Kilmarnock, Scotland to Albany, NY in 1830. There he was apprenticed to a sign painter and developed an interest in art. In 1851 he went to Dusseldorf, Germany to study and remained for three years. He returned to Albany and opened a studio. He exhibited his first work at the National Academy of Design in 1848, became an associate in 1857 and a full member in 1859.

After the 1870s, he and his brother William opened studios in Keene Valley, NY, in the heart of the Adirondacks. James Hart was particularly devoted to the National Academy, exhibiting there over a period of more than forty years, and serving as vice president late in his life from 1895 to 1899. Like his brother, James also exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association (he lived for a time in Brooklyn) and at major exhibitions around the country. Along with most of the major landscape artists of the time, James based his operations in New York City and adopted the style of the Hudson River School.

While James and his brother William often painted similar landscape subjects, James may have been more inclined to paint exceptionally large works. An example is 'The Old Homestead' (1862), 42 x 68 inches, in the collection of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. His works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the New York State Historical Assocation, the Corcoran Gallery, and Vassar College. James may have been exposed to large paintings while studying in Düsseldorf, a center of realist art pedagogy that also shaped the practices of Albert Bierstadt and Worthington Whittredge. His children, Robert, Mary, and Letitia were artists, as was his wife, Marie Thereas Gorsuch, and his sister, Julie Hart Beers Kempson.



Burial: Green-Wood Cemetery, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA.

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