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The Fuller Building, 41 East 57th Street, 9th Floor New York City, NY 10022 United States 212.535.8810
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$ 25,000

Still Life of Flowers in a White Vase

Documentation Signed
Documentation Notes Signed (at lower right): G.H. Hall/ 1860
Period 19th Century
Materials Oil on canvas
Dimensions
W. 12 in; H. 14.38 in;
W. 30.48 cm; H. 36.53 cm;
Condition Excellent.
Creation Date 1860
Description Signed and dated (at lower center): G. H. Hall / 1860

George Henry Hall was a popular and highly esteemed American artist, “in his time . . . the best-known specialist of still life in the mid-nineteenth century” (William H. Gerdts, Painters of the Humble Truth: Masters of American Still Life, 1801–1939 [1981], p. 93). Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, Hall was initially a self-taught portrait and genre painter, working in Boston from 1842 to 1849. He began to exhibit at the Boston Athenaeum in 1846 and showed there regularly through 1868. In 1848, Hall extended his patronage circle to New York City, selling three pictures to the American Art-Union. Although Hall hoped to travel to Italy to hone his artistic skills, he amended his plan and agreed to study at the academy in Düsseldorf, Germany, which was becoming an important training ground for American painters. More than offering just encouragement, the Art-Union subsidized Hall’s German study with the purchase of seven canvases in 1849.

Hall remained in Düsseldorf for one year, moved to Paris for further study, and then went on to Rome before returning to New York in 1852. Although the Art-Union ceased operations in 1852, Hall settled in New York and exhibited his European-inspired genre and figure paintings (along with an occasional portrait) at the National Academy of Design, where he was elected an associate academician. In 1857, Hall showed “Sweet Peas: A Study from Nature” at the N.A.D. and “A Study of Sweet Peas” at the Boston Athenaeum, the first records of his exhibiting the still-life subjects for which he was to become well-known. As the subtitle “A Study from Nature” indicates, Hall’s early still-life work was influenced by the painting aesthetic of “truth to nature,” the rallying cry of the English art critic and arbiter of taste, John Ruskin. Hall’s still-life paintings of the 1850s and 1860s are precisely drawn and colored evocations of fruits and flowers, very much consistent with the style of the American Pre-Raphaelites.

Hall exhibited energetically throughout his career and was a constant presence in the major annual exhibitions of his day. In addition to The Boston Athenaeum, the American Art-Union, and the National Academy of Design, Hall also showed at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, from 1853; the Brooklyn Art Association, New York, from 1861; The Boston Art Club, in 1881 and 1889; the Art Institute of Chicago, in 1888; and in London, at Grosvenor Gallery, in 1889 and 1890. In 1868 he was elected an academician at the National Academy of Design, taking an active role there as treasurer and as a member of the governing council at various times. He also belonged to the Century Club in New York City and frequently exhibited his pictures there, where they were seen by the artistic and literary elite of the time.

In the 1860s, Hall concentrated on still-life painting, a choice that appears to have been very financially rewarding. “The Cosmopolitan Art Journal” singled Hall out in a March 1860 article, “The Dollars and Cents of Art,” noting the handsome prices the artist was receiving for his still-life paintings (as cited in William H. Gerdts, op. cit., p. 93). Like a number of American artists, Hall periodically sold groups of his canvases in consolidated sales in order to raise money for foreign travel.

Though never an expatriate, Hall demonstrated by his frequent and lengthy trips a great zest for the life of an American artist in Europe. He spent an accumulated twenty-one years of his career on the Continent, primarily in Spain and Italy. In 1872, Hall went to Italy and lived for a year in Rome before marrying a woman from Capri. In 1875 and 1876, he traveled to Egypt and Palestine, extending his search for exotic subject matter and fanciful bric-a-brac to satisfy American tastes. Hall returned to Italy for a four-year stay in 1883. During this trip, he established a close friendship with two expatriate American painters who were themselves best friends, Elihu Vedder and Charles Caryl Coleman. Coleman had owned a villa on Capri since 1880.

In the decade of the 1870s, Hall resumed figure and genre work, while continuing his successful career as a still-life painter. In addition to extensive travel, he established studio/residences both in New York City and in the Catskill mountains. Beginning in 1867, Hall spent summers in the Catskills, near the village of Palenville. From 1874 to 1883, he was a tenant at the famous Studio Building on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village, the center of New York City art life. In Palenville, Hall contributed to the local color by covering the chimney of his studio cottage with tiles he brought home from Spain, a design choice sufficiently idiosyncratic and exotic that the Hall cottage become one of the local tourist attractions.

When Hall painted “Still Life of Flowers in a White Vase” in 1860, he was enjoying his first crest of popularity as a still-life painter. Here Hall puts these lovely and delicate flowers into a porcelain case and places them on his characteristic polished wood table, offering the viewer an image of grace, elegance and simple domestic charm.
Styles / Movements Realism
Dealer Reference Number APG 8792
Incollect Reference Number 198098
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