Richard William Hubbard


Born in Middletown, Connecticut, Hubbard was educated at the Middletown Academy and attended Yale College, subsequently receiving his bachelor's degree as a member of the class of 1837. The following year he went to New York,, where he studied with Samuel F. B. Morse at New York University. According to some sources, Hubbard also studied with his contemporary, Morse's student Daniel Huntington, either before or after a trip to Europe. Hubbard spent 1840 and 1841 in England and France. "There," according to an article in the Brooklyn Monthly, "he found fresh inspiration in the works of Claude Lorraine, and to this day he reveres the memory of Claude, and eulogizes his paintings with a degree of warmth that no criticism by Ruskin can chill." After his return from Europe, he settled in Brooklyn. In 1842, he began exhibiting his landscapes at the National Academy of Design, where in 1851 he was elected an associate and in 1858 an academician. Hubbard's works were also shown at the American Art-Union, the Boston Athenaeum, the Maryland Historical Society, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Washington Art Association.

From 1850 to 1858 Hubbard had a studio in the University Building on Washington Square, and his name appears on its rent rolls from 1853 to 1869. From 1859 until his death, he maintained a studio in the Tenth Street Studio Building. A founder and president of the Artist's Fund Society, Hubbard also served as third president of the Brooklyn Art Association from 1873 to 1884 and contributed regularly to its exhibitions from 1861 to 1886. In 1865 he was elected to the Century Association, and 1874 he was awarded an honorary master's degree from Yale.

A member of the circle of Hudson River School painters, Hubbard was best known for modest, smale-scale studies from nature and a preoccupation with effects of light, shadow, and atmosphere that gage his works a luminous quality. Characterizing Hubbard's Landscapes as "gems of quiet beauty," Tuckerman observed: "Their tone is usually subdued, their beauty poetic; occasionally the effects are exquisite; they may lack boldness and vigor, but rarely meaning and grace ...and are related to the gentler, more thoughtful and dreamy impression we derive from nature".

"He was a close student of nature," Champney wrote of Hubbard, "and would work for days upon a small canvas trying to interpret the scent in its most intircate aspects. This he did not do for the picture he obtained, but to gain knowledge. His canvases were not crowded with details, but simple in arrangement, with a charming scheme of color".

In 1857, the winter after he painted the picture, Holland wrote to the artist Charles Lanmen: "If I were to describe, that phase of Nature which touches me most deeply, I should try to recall to your remembrance some view of forested mountain slopes in shadow, their termination undistinguishable amid the wooded champaign, itself interspersed with lakes & lost in a filmy distance the sky paled to a delivate grey by overpowering sunlight; & light -- producing thereby a dreaminess of effect highley poetical. I think this is the best light perhaps in which to exhibit our American nature in the full freshness of Early Summer greenery, as all apparent harshness of verduous tints is by this light toned into a modesty of colour transcendently beautiful (Feb 27, 1857, Charles Henry Hart Autograph Collecion).

[Biblioography: Henry T. Tuckerman, Book of the Artists (New York, 1867); "Our Artists and Their Works," Brooklyn Monthly (April 1878); H[enry] W. French, Art and Artists in Connecticut (Boston and New York, 1897); Oliver S. Tonks, DAB (1932; 1961), s.v. "Hubbard, Richard William,"; Theodore Sizer, ed., Recollections of John Ferguson Weir, Director of the Yale School of the Fine Arts, 1869-1913 (New York and New Haven, 1957). Reprinted with additions from three articles in the New-York Historical Society Quarterly 41 (April-Oct. 1957. Weir's manuscripts dates 1913.]

View painter's art: Richard William Hubbard (1816-1888) [new window view]