WILLIAM M. HART PAINTINGS FOR SALE & BIOGRAPHY
WILLIAM M. HART
"William Hart, the elder brother of the painter James M. Hart (1828–1901), was born in Paisley, Scotland. The Hart family immigrated to America in 1831 and settled in Albany, New York. Like his brother, William Hart gained his first experience as a painter by decorating coach panels and windowshades. He soon expanded his painting activities to include sketching from nature. At the age of eighteen he became a portrait painter, using his father’s woodshed in Troy as a studio and charging five dollars a head. “In regard to his pictures,” the Art Journal reported in 1875, “he says that a good likeness was required, and that art and technical execution were of secondary consideration.” In the early 1840s Hart traveled in search of portrait commissions. He spent three years in Michigan painting portraits at twenty-five dollars a head and, as he put it, “boarding ‘round” among his patrons. Ill health forced him to return to Albany about 1845, when he is said to have devoted himself wholly to landscape painting. The financial assistance of Dr. J.J. Armsby enabled Hart to go abroad in 1849 to recover his health. An item in the Albany Argus reprinted in the November 1850 issue of the Bulletin of the American Art-Union reported:
“Many of our citizens will doubtless be glad to hear that our young townsman, William Hart, the landscape painter, is still living, and now prosecuting his art with great energy and success in Scotland. He left this city in very feeble health last November, with orders from our own citizens that will occupy two or three years. He received no advances on any of these orders, and does not expect pay until the pictures are sent home, nor then, even, unless they are satisfactory to the persons ordering them. Several pictures have already arrived and afford gratifying evidence of his improvement and high cultivation in the art….The pictures are all careful studies from nature, and truthful representations of the scenes intended to be portrayed. His studies are all taken in oil, of cabinet size, and copied on the larger canvas.”
"After recuperating, Hart went to Edinburgh, where he studied works at the academy. Some of his American paintings were exhibited, and he painted from nature in and around the city. He also visited Melrose Abbey, Roslin Caslte, and Abbotsford. In the summer of 1850 he painted in the Highlands.
"Hart spent three years in his native Scotland and other parts of Great Britain and returned to Albany in 1852. By 1854 he had taken a studio in New York City. He moved to the Tenth Street Studio Building shortly after it was erected in the spring of 1857. Hart was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design in 1854 and an academician in 1858. One of the founders of the Brooklyn Academy of Design, he became its first president in 1865. While in office, he delivered a notable lecture on American landscape painting titled “The Field and the Easel,” which was summarized by Henry T. Tuckerman in his Book of the Artists. He was one of the founders of the American Watercolor Society and served as its president for three years from 1870 to 1872. Largely self-taught, Hart believed in individuality and feared that one’s own artistic vision might suffer by studying the style of others too closely. Nevertheless, he was influenced early in his career by the work of the Hudson River School painters and remained remarkably faithful to their principles. As his grandson, the author and humorist E.B. White reported: “he was drawn to landscape painting and ended up as one of the cows. Many of his best and most ambitious oils featured cattle. I have seen some of his sketch books: they are loaded with the details of udders, rear ends, heads, horns, and hooves” (Letters of E.B. White, collected and edited by D.L. Guth , p. 4).
"Hart spent his last years in Mount Vernon, New York, where he died on June 17, 1894, shortly after the death of his wife, the former Janet Wallace. Both are buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn."
(Burke, Doreen Bolger, American Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vol. III, A Catalogue of Works by Art and Artists Born between 1846 and 1864, 1980).
Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, NY
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH
Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, MO
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
National Academy of Design Museum, New York, NY
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz, NY
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, IL