William M. Hart

American, 1823 - 1894
Hudson River School landscape artist William M. Hart was born in Paisley, Scotland. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1831; they settled in Albany, New York. The artist was apprenticed to a carriage maker, but by the time he was 18 he began to paint portraits.

Soon after 1849, Hart left Albany and traveled widely throughout the United States, painting in New York, Virginia and Michigan, where he spent three years. After a brief visit to Scotland, he returned to Albany in 1847, and in 1854 opened a studio in New York City. Later he moved to Brooklyn, where he became the first president of the Brooklyn Academy of Design in 1854. His last years were spent in Mount Vernon, New York.

Both Hart and his brother, James McDougal Hart, who worked separately, were considered leading landscape painters of the second generation of the Hudson River School. William Hart painted in the style of Asher B. Durand, one of the leading landscape artists of the period, although his work lacked Durand's monumentality.

William Hart's earlier works were painted in a detailed and meticulous manner, while his later works were more broadly conceived.

One of the founders (and later president) of the American Water Color Society, Hart also painted a number of small, dramatic seascapes of the coast of Maine, suggesting the influence of the popular German artist Andreas Achenbach of Dusseldorf.

Hart's favorite subject matter was a herd of cattle drinking at a stream. According to the style of the day, Hart blended the real and the ideal to give an atmosphere of peace and serenity. Contemporary critics spoke of his ability to be "faithful to nature" and yet convey "a poetic sentiment". His paintings were engraved over and over again for the gift books and art journals of his time.

American Water Color Society
Brooklyn Academy of design
National Academy of Design

Public Collections:
Albany Institute of History and Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
National Academy of Design
New York Historical Society
Vassar College

Biography courtesy of Roughton Galleries, www.antiquesandfineart.com/roughton
William Hart was one of the most esteemed painters of the Hudson River School's second generation of artists. His paintings, especially his river landscapes, were so popular that they were often reproduced as engravings. Hart was the older brother of James MacDougal Hart and Julie Hart Beers, who became successful landscape painters under his tutelage. The family emigrated to America from Scotland in 1831 and settled in Albany, New York. William quickly established his reputation as an artist known for his lush, pastoral landscapes and an art instructor whose students included Homer Dodge Martin and Lemuel Maynard Wiles. He served as a member of the council of the National Academy of Design, was elected the first president of the Brooklyn Academy of Design, and helped to found the American Watercolor Society. Hart's work can now be found in the White House, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Biography courtesy of Questroyal Fine Art, LLC, www.antiquesandfineart.com/questroyal
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