William Hart

(31 March 1823 – 17 June 1894)


Born in Paisly, Scotland, taken to America by his parents in 1831, he lived for some time in Albany, N. Y., working in the establishment of a coachmaker in that city, for whom he painted panels, etc., but soon displaying artistic ability of a much higher grade than was required in that trade, he became a professional artist, painting portraits in Troy and in some of the Western States. After a brief sketching-tour in the northern and more picturesque portions of his native Scotland, he opened a studio in Albany in 1848, settling in New York in 1853. He was made Associate of the National Academy in 1855, and Academician in 1858. At the organization of the Brooklyn Academy of Design in 1865, he was made its President, holding that position for some years. He was one of the original members of the American Society of Painters in Water-Colors, and President from 1870 to '73. Among the earlier works of William Hart may be mentioned, "The Gloamin'," "Coming from the Mill," "Up among the Hills," "Peace and Plenty," "Children on the Shore," "Castle Rock," and "Path by the River."

In 1867 he sent to the National Academy, "September Snow" and "Autumn in the Woods of Maine" (both in water-color), and to the Water-Color Exhibitions in other years, "Scene on the Peabody River," in 1868; "Gorham, N. H.," in 1870; "Lake George" and "Eastern Sky at Sunset," in 1871.

In oil he exhibited at the National Academy, in 1869, "Twilight on the Brook" and "Showery Day in Autumn"; in 1870, "Twilight," "Cedars of the Hudson," "Brook Study," and others; in 1872, "The Last Gleam" and "The Golden Hour"; in 1874, "Morning in the Mountains," "The Misty Morning by the Lake," "The Opening in the Clouds," and "Cattle in the Woods"; in 1875, "Keene Valley"; in 1876, several cattle and landscape pictures; in 1877, "Landscape with Jersey Cattle"; in 1878, "The Ford."

His "Keene Valley" (oil) and "Mount Madison, N. H " (water-color) were at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876; his "Morning after the Fog " belonged to John Taylor Johnston; his "After the Shower" is the property of S. J. Harriot; his "Mount Desert" (water-color) and "Near Keene" are in the collection of S. V. Wright.

"William Hart's landscapes admirably discriminate the diversities and coincidences of natural phenomena in North Britain and North America; they display characteristic features often rendered with consummate taste. His pencil is alike chaste and living, true and tender, and many of his smaller landscapes are gems of quiet yet salient beauty." -- Tuckerman's Book of the Artists.

"William Hart's style is rich and glowing, and for subjects he prefers the brilliancy of a sunset sky, or the delineation of the gorgeous tints of autumn foliage, or Nature in her brightest rather than in her dark and gloomy phases. His paintings, illustrative of sunset effects on the coast, particularly those drawn on the Grand Menan, several of which he has sent from his easel during the past ten years, for exquisite treatment of detail, unity of sentiment and fidelity, give a good idea of his poetic fancy, and have been recognized as among his strongest works." -- Art Journal, August, 1875.

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

William McDougal Hart (March 31, 1823 – June 17, 1894), was a Scottish-born American landscape and cattle painter, and Hudson River School artist. His younger brother, James McDougal Hart, was also a Hudson River School artist, and the two painted similar subjects. He studied under Jules-Joseph Lefebvre.

Hart was born in Paisley, Scotland, and was taken to America in early youth by his family. He was apprenticed to a carriage painter at Albany, New York, and his first artistic experience was in decorating the panels of coaches with landscapes. He also spent time as a portrait painter. He returned to Scotland, probably in the early or mid-1840s, where he studied for three years.

By the time he returned to America, Hart had shifted his energy to landscape painting. He exhibited his first work at the National Academy of Design in 1848, became a full member in 1858, and continued to show his paintings there regularly through the mid-1870s. He also exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association and at major exhibitions around the country. Hart was a member of the American Watercolor Society, and was its president from 1870 to 1873.

Like most of the major American landscape artists of the time, Hart settled in New York City, where he opened a studio in the Tenth Street Studio building in 1858. His mature landscape style embraced the mannerism of the late Hudson River School by emphasizing light and atmosphere. He became particularly adept at depicting angled sunlight and foreground shadow; the best examples of this are: 'Seashore Morning' (1866) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; 'After the Storm' (1860s) in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; 'The Last Gleam' (1865) in the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia; 'Sunset in the Valley' (1870) in a private collection, and 'A Quiet Nook' (1885) in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.

As strong as Hart's technical abilities were, he is also known for his prolific and occasionally formulaic paintings of cows. Cattle were a popular motif in Hudson River School art, and nearly every artist included them in at least some of their landscapes as diminutive symbols of man's harmonious relationship with nature. Some artists, including William and James Hart along with Thomas Bigelow Craig, made a specialty of cow portraits. These paintings, which were very popular with late-19th-century American collectors, typically featured several cattle grazing or watering in the foreground or middle distance with the landscape playing a supporting role as a bucolic backdrop.

The Albany Institute of History & Art has in its collection over 400 sketches, water colors, and sketch books which were retained en masse from the artist's studio after his death, by the family of the subsequent donor. Since each piece is signed, dated, and annoted with the location of its subject, many previously unsigned and unattributed paintings are now being associated with the artist. The museum is preparing an exhibition of this material.

Wikipedia

RECORD OF DEATH, OBITUARY.

Birth: 31 March 1823, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland.
Death: 17 June 1894, Mount Vernon, New York.
Burial: Green-Wood Cemetery, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Field: Artist, Landscape Painting.
Training: Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, Hudson River School.

William Hart was brought to America by his parents, James and Marion Robertson Hart, from Scotland in February, 1830. William began his career as a coach and ornamental painter in Troy, New York. For several years he traveled throughout Michigan as an itinerant painter doing portraits before going to Europe to study.

From 1852 on he kept a studio in New York City, working out of the 10th Street Studio Building from 1859 to 1870. He became an associate member of the National Academy of Design in 1855 and a full member in 1858. He moved to Brooklyn and became the first president of the Brooklyn Academy of Design in 1865. He was also a founder of the American Watercolor Society.

His mature landscape style embraced the mannerism of the late Hudson River School by emphasizing light and atmosphere. He became particularly adept at depicting angled sunlight and foreground shadow; the best examples of this are 'Seashore Morning', (1866) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; 'After the Storm', (1860s) in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; 'The Last Gleam', (1865) in the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia; 'Sunset in the Valley', (1870) in a private collection, and 'A Quiet Nook', (1885) in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.

As strong as William's technical abilities were, he is also known for his prolific and occasionally formulaic paintings of cows. Cattle were a popular decorative in Hudson River School art, and nearly every artist included them in at least some of their landscapes as diminutive symbols of man's harmonious relationship with nature. The Albany Institute of History & Art has in its collection over 400 sketches, water colors, and sketch books which were retained en masse from the artist's studio after his death, by the family of the subsequent donor. Since each piece is signed, dated, and annoted with the location of its subject, many previously unsigned and unattributed paintings are now being associated with the artist.

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