William Stanley Haseltine

(11 June 1835 - 3 February 1900)

American painter and draftsman who was associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting, the Hudson River School and Luminism.

Born in Philadelphia to John Haseltine, a successful businessman, and Elizabeth Shinn Haseltine, an amateur landscape painter, Haseltine studied at the University of Pennsylvania and then at Harvard University, where he received a degree in 1854.

He first exhibited his paintings the following year at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, after which he sailed to Europe, first joining a colony of American painters who were studying in Düsseldorf, then traveling up the Rhine into Switzerland and Italy. In late 1857 he settled in Rome, and in the following months made numerous excursions to draw the landscape around Rome and on Capri.

In 1858 Haseltine returned to Philadelphia, and by late 1859 was installed in the Tenth Street Studio Building in New York City, then a central point for American landscape painters; also in the building were Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt, and Worthington Whittredge, the latter two having befriended Haseltine in Europe. Though many of his paintings from this time derived from his European sketches, Haseltine also began to paint the oceanside of New England, especially favoring the rockbound coasts of Narragansett, Rhode Island, Nahant, Massachusetts, and Mount Desert Island, Maine. The precision with which he painted these landscapes won critical praise, and Haseltine was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1860, and a full Academician in 1861.

In 1864 Haseltine's wife died in childbirth. He spent some time training his nephew, Howard Russell Butler, but he moved after he married Helen Marshall in 1866. Initially the family considered settling in Paris, but in 1867 they moved to Rome, which would for most of Haseltine's subsequent years serve as his home and point of departure from which to produce views of the European landscape. While his paintings of Capri and Sicily would prove popular with visiting American tourists, Haseltine also traveled and drew in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, summering in Bavaria and the Tyrol in the 1880s and 1890s. In his later years he also returned periodically to the United States, making a final trip to the west in 1899.

Haseltine died of pneumonia in Rome in 1900. He is buried at the Protestant cemetery in Rome on Via Caio Cestio, about 5 km from the Episcopal Church of Saint Paul's Within The Walls, of which he was one of the founding members.


William Haseltine was born into a family that producd much artistic talent. His mother, Elizabeth Stanley Shinn Haseltine was a painter, and both his his brothers were active in the art world. James Henry Haseltine was a sculptor, and Charles Field Haseltine owned the Haseltine Art Galleries in Philadelphia. This tradition was carried into the next generation by William's son Herbert, a sculptor and also a National Academician.

William Haseltine first studied art in 1850 and 1851 in Philadelphia, under the German expatriate artist Paul Weber After attending the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1854, he accompanied Weber to Düsseldorf, where he continued his training under Andreas Achenbach, an artist with whom Weber had studied. In 1856 Haseltine traveled through Germany and he Alps with Albert Bierstadt, Emanuel Leutze, and Worthington Whittredge, eventually arriving in Rome, where he remained for two years. He was back in Philadelphia in 1859 (the year a work of his was first included in an Academy annual exhibition) and in 1860, but then settled in New York for a time, taking rooms in the Tenth Street Studio Building. He evidently made a number of sketching trips to the New England coast and in the Delaware River Valley, for among his submissions to the Academy annuals from 1861 through 1865, were scenes from these areas.

Haseltine and his family spent the late 1860s in France, where he painted a number of works in the Salon. In the autumn of 1869, the family moved to Rome and eventually found permanent accommodations in the Palazzo Atieri, which they established as a social ceneter for American expatriates and tourists in the city. Haseltine took sketching trips throughout Italy, to Sicily, or to Venice every spring and autumn, and often went to Bavaria or the Tyrol in the summer. An inveterate traveler, he visited most of the entire countries of Europe at one time or another.

Although he was a confirmed expatriate, Haseltine always kept close ties with his native land and returned to America several times during the last three decades of his life. He had a studio in New York for a time in 1873-74; and worked in Boston for the Winter of 896; and traveled to the American West and Alaska with his son Herbert in 1899.

Haseltine was a member of New York's Century Association and Salmagundi Club, a trustee of the American Academy in Rome, and a member of the Art Committee for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

At his death, about fifteen hundred paintings, drawings, and watercolors were in Haseltine's Palazzo Atieri Studio; there they remained for twenty years, eventually passing to his daughter Helen Haseltine Plowden. A selection of these works formed a memorial exhibition, which debuted at the Academy in December, 1858, and toured nationally. In 1961, wanting the remainder of her father's oeuvre to return to his native land. Mrs. Plowden asked the Academy to assist her distributing it among American public collections; these included the Dayton (Ohio) Art Institute, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, and the Montclair (N.J.) Art Museum.

According to his daughter and biographer, Helen Haseltine Plowden, her father first visited Capri in the spring of 1858, and remained inspired by the island for the rest of his life. During his stays there, he often lodged in a monestery, following in the tradition of the Nazerene painters., a number of whom he had met, or at least knew of through Oswald Achenbach, the younger brother of his teacher in Düsseldorf.

Although it is difficult to date this painting, based on its light palette, it has been suggested that it is a late work. It may be this canvas that is described in a May, 1896, article in the Boston Standard.

Listed in The High Museum of Art located in Atlanta; dated 1875.

(May, 1896, article from the Boston Standard. A striking painting of large size represents the island of Capri; jagged and picturesque rock break into the air from the blue waters of the bay and tower to a height of many hundred feet, their rough outlines almost startling by their bold contours. Upon the summitt of the highest point of Capri, a monestery was erected long ago to which pilgrims flock every year; the walls of the monastery are still standing and in fair preservation. Never have we seen man's handiwork, in its relation to Nature, more faithfully delineated than by Mr. Haseltine, in this picture.

Sunrise at Capri was selected for the Academy's permanent collection from the Haseltine estate at the invitation of his daughter in 1952. Mrs. Plowden also made a gift to the Academy of a Haseltine drawing, entitled Capri and dated 1858, which is related to the present work only in subject matter.

[National Academy of Design minutes, March 17, 1862; October 6, 1952, October 3, 1955; October 6, 1963. "Haseltine's Studio," Boston Standard, May 1, 1896. Josiah H. Shinn, The History of the Shinn Family in Europe and America (Chicago: Genealogical and Historical Publishing Company, 1903).]

William Stanley Haseltine, N. A. Born at Philadelphia. He began the study of art under Weber in his native city; later, he painted and studied in Düsseldorf. He has lived for many yean in Rome and Venice, devoting himself to landscapes, particularly Italian and Normandy scenes. He was made a full member of the National Academy, New York, in 1861. Three of his earlier works, "Indian Rock, Nahant," "Castle Rock, Nahant," and "A Calm Sea, Mentone," were in the collection of John Taylor Johnston. To the Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876 he sent "Ruins of Roman Theater, Sicily,'' and; "Natural Arch at Capri." He rarely exhibits in the National Academy.

"Few of our artists have been more conscientious in the delineation of rocks than Haseltine; their firm, superficial traits and precise tone are given with remarkable accuracy. His pencil identifies coast scenery with emphatic beauty." -- Tuckerman's Book of the Artists.

Artists of the Nineteenth Century. Clara Erskine Clement & Laurence Hutton. Vol. I., 1879

William Stanley Haseltine's work, marked by three definite phases, might be described as belonging to the three rivers which he loved above all others: the Delaware, the Rhine and the Tiber. In his earliest youth he learned to draw and paint by the banks of the Delaware; and his work of that time gives evidence of his exceptional aptitude for drawing. The second phase started when he went to Düsseldorf on the Rhine, and when Andreas Achenbach widened his horizon and opened his eyes to the greater beauty and emotion underlying the production of works of art. The third and last phase, in which he has been called a "pre-impressionist," developed in Rome by the Tiber; of the hourly color changes here he used to say, "There is no light like that in the Campagna Romana."

He began painting under Paul Weber in Philadelphia at the age of fifteen, and studied with him in his spare time while a freshman and sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania. He transferred to Harvard, where he was graduated in 1854 at the age of nineteen; returning to Philadelphia, he continued working with Weber. The old man, however, had decided to return to his native Germany, and easily persuaded young Haseltine to go with him.

In Düsseldorf, Haseltine studied under Andreas Achenbach, Weber's old mentor, and continued developing his draughtsmanship in emulation of the German mastery of drawing. Here, too, he became closely linked with three American artists, all older than himself -- Emanuel Leutze, Worthington Whittredge and Albert Bierstadt -- who remained lifelong friends. With them he made the journey of the Rhine to its source in Switzerland; and in 1856 they all went to Rome together. During this period, when German scenery gave way to the more virile landscape of the Alps, there began a long crescendo of activity for him; but this productivity was only a preliminary to the hundreds of sketches which Italy inspired him to make with all the joy of youth. Already he showed his first leaning toward impressionism, which later developed in France.

He returned to New York in 1858 and took up his quarters in the Studio Building at 51 West Tenth Street, where his friends Leutze, Whittredge and Bierstadt had already established themselves. His work was well received in the United States; he held exhibitions in Philadelphia, and in New York at the Century and Salamagundi clubs, and sold a number of important paintings. In 1861 he was elected a member of the National Academy of Design.

He married Helen Marshall, daughter of Captain Charles Henry Marshall, owner of the Black Ball Line, in 1866; and for a few years they hved in Paris. At this time he attached himself to the Barbizon school, then waging war with the Academicians; and he exhibited in the Salon every year. Contemporaneous critics sometimes found his work in color and line unfinished and too vigorous. It is certain that he admired Monet's paintings; one of his own works, some years later, was mistaken for a Monet.

No matter where he happened to be living in Europe, he made annual visits to the United States, where his paintings of the New England coast continued to be appreciated and found a ready sale. His large painting of the ruins of the Greek theatre in Taormina, Sicily, was exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876; soon afterward, his name appeared as one of the founders of the American Academy in Rome, and he was also instrumental in helping to complete the building of the American Episcopal Church in Rome. As in every city where he might make his home, his studio in Rome was the meeting-place for people of varied pursuits in life: artists, writers, diplomats, American visitors to Rome.

In 1893, Haseltine served on the Art Committee for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Between 1890 and 1899 he lived, with his family, in the United States for the greater part of the time. Toward the end of this decade he and his son, Herbert, well known today as a sculptor of animals, toured through the American West, going northward along the Pacific Coast to Alaska. He made many watercolors of Monterey and of the country along the Columbia River; and filled his sketch-books with exquisite watercolors done from the boat going to Alaska. "I cannot describe to you," he wrote to his wife, "the wonder of our journey; of the six immense glaciers coming into view at the same time, one, of the most exquisite sapphire blue -- wonderful against the snow mountains and scores of waterfalls lit up by the evening sun."

Who knows what new works might have resulted from the impressions of this journey upon a vigorous man who was ever fascinated by the variety of the earth's surface? In the autumn of 1899 the Haseltine family returned to their apartment in the Palazzo Altieri; but heart trouble had set in and the artist died peacefully in February 1900, a few minutes after telling his doctor: "I have only just begun to learn to paint."

Original source: archive.org; research on William Stanley Haseltine, American Artist.
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Drawings -- * Water colors -- ** Oils -- ***
Tivoli, 1858 * Cannes 1875 ** Landscape ***
Rock study, Mt. Desert, 1859 * San Pietro, Porto Venere, Spezia ** Laguna, Venice ***
San Pietro, Gulf of Spezia * Fortress in Switzerland ** Grand Canal, Venice ***
Spezia * Boats on Riviera or Italian lake **
Near the Rhine Germany 1855 * Murano, Venice **
Capri, 1858 * Boats on the Adriatic **
Dutch boats A * Venice **
Dutch boats B * Sette Sale, Rome **
Capri, 1858 * Tivoli, 1858 **
Cloud study A * Rapallo, 1881 **
Cloud study B * Greek theater, Taormina **
Bruges * Alhambra, 1888 **
New England coast 1864 * Traunstein, Bavaria **
New England coast 1864 * Albano, 1882 **
New England coast 1864 * Mt. Tacoma, 1899 **
Mt. Desert, 1859 * Boats, Venice **
Crag, Mt. Desert * Fishing boats, Venice **
Natural arch, Capri * Blankenberg **
Wetterhorn, Switzerland * Tree study **
Capri, 1858 * Capri, 1858 **
Rocks, Maine * Seal Harbor, Mt. Desert **
On the slopes of the Hudson * Sette Sale, Villa Brancaccio, Rome **
Peyncat, near Belvidere Delaware * Campagna Romana, 1881 **
Campagna Romana 1858 * Mill dam in Traunstein, Bavaria **
Belvidere, Delaware * Vahrn woods, Tyrol **
College Hill, Poughkeepsie * Torrent in wood, Vahrn, Tyrol **
Seelisberg Lake Lucerne 1857 * Vahrn, Tyrol **

Catalog of an exhibition held at Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration between 16th January and 19th February, 1958.

View painter's art: William Stanley Haseltine (1835-1900)

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