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 Hermann Dudley Murphy  (1867 - 1945)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts      Known for: tonalist landscape painter, still life, portrait

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Hermann Dudley Murphy
from Auction House Records.
The Beach
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A major figure in the Boston School style of painting and also as a painter in the Tonalist style emanating from Barbizon, France, Herman Murphy did a variety of subject matter beginning with portraits and figure studies and later painting still lifes, seascapes and landscapes.  He was especially noted for his floral still lifes, a subject he turned to in the 1920s, later in his career, and depicted with Impressionist style, classical format, sculptural appearance of featured subject, and decorative background patterning.  Many of these still lifes had images of exquisite Chinese porcelains, bronzes, rugs, and antiques.

Murphy was born in Marlboro, Massachusetts and became a student of Edmund Tarbell and Frank Benson at the Boston Museum School.  In 1891, he traveled to Paris and enrolled at the Academy Julian as a student of Jean Paul Laurens.  In painting and also in designing and making of frames, he was the most influenced by James Whistler, whom he met in Europe. 

Murphy established his studio, "Carrig Rohane", near Boston in Winchester.  Using his studio name for frames intended to complement tonalist-style paintings, he established a framing business with Charles Prendergast and W. Alfred Thulin.  Their product reflected the prevailing Aesthetic Movement, whose tenets included the commitment to art expressed throughout the totality of the work of art. 

Murphy also taught at Harvard University.  A special interest of Murphy was canoeing. As a traveler, Murphy went to the tropics and loved the sun-ridden environment, which much influenced his landscape painting.

He was an exhibitor in the 1913 Armory Show in New York and Boston, but by 1928, he had given up modernism all-together.  The Boston Sunday Post, 2/19/28 carried the following quote by him:  "These Modernist painters say that they paint not what they see, but what they feel--well, Heaven help them if they feel like what they paint!"

Source:
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Carol Lowrey, "Hermann Dudley Murphy", The Poetic Vision: American Tonalism, p. 150

Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.:
Murphy, H.D. (American, 1867-1945)

Hermann Dudley Murphy was a portrait and landscape painter, art teacher, frame designed and illustrator born in Marlborough, MA in 1867. He studied at the Boston Museum School under Tarbell, Benson and DeCamp and at the Academie Julien in Paris with Jean Paul Laurens and Constant from 1891-1896.

Known as a “Tarbellite” because he best emulated academic tradition with impressionism, Murphy became an Associate (1930) and an Academician (1934) of the National Academy and he was a member of the Boston Art Club, the Guild of Boston Artists, the National Arts Club, Boston Society of Watercolor Painters, the Copley Society, the Massachusetts State Art Commission, Painters & Sculptors Gallery Association, Woodstock Art Association and more.

His work is represented at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, National Academy of Design, Albright Art Gallery of Buffalo, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Cincinnati Museum of Art, St. Louis Art Museum and elsewhere.

Who Was Who in American Art, p. 2371, Volume II states that his frame making influences “even surpassed Whistler’s. In 1903, he and Charles Prendergast opened their frame shop, Carrig-Rohane in Winchester, MA and by 1905 moved the business to Boston. Later the business included Walfred Thulin until 1912….” From 1887-1888 Murphy was an illustrator for the Nicaraguan Canal expedition and from 1931-1937 he taught in the Art Department at Harvard University.

Biography from The Caldwell Gallery - I:
Herman Murphy studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School as well as Acadamie Julian from 1891 to 1896. He was an Impressionist painter of harmonious scenes and was known for his beautiful landscapes and floral compositions. He combined Realism with an ideal beauty with concern for delicate color tonalities. His later works are still in great demand.

Murphy was also very influential on American framework, surpassing even Whistler. He opened his own shop "Carrig Rohane" in Winchester, MA, moved it to Boston in 1905, and subsequently sold the shop in 1917 to Vose Gallery.

Murphy served as an illustrator for the Nicaraguan Canal Expedition in 1887 and also contributed work to books and magazines from 1888-94. Mid-way through his career, Murphy traveled to the tropics where he gained a greater color range and vibrancy. The 1920s was Murphy's last and most successful phase with his florals and still lifes, employing more Impressionistic techniques.

Murphy taught at Harvard from 1931 to 1937. He died eight years later in 1945.

Biography from Spanierman Gallery:
A painter of quiet, sunlit landscapes and refined still lifes, Hermann Dudley Murphy was a significant figure in the Boston School of Painting in the early twentieth century.

He was born in Marlboro, Massachusetts. His father was an Irish-born shoe manufacturer, and his mother came from a politically influential New Hampshire family. Murphy’s first studies took place during the 1880s, when he enrolled at Boston’s Museum School, studying there under the eminent painters Edmund Tarbell and Frank W. Benson.

Toward the end of the decade, Murphy spent time on a survey expedition to Nicaragua. In 1891, he left for Paris, where he was a pupil at the Académie Julian of Jean-Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant and became enthralled by the work of James McNeill Whistler. Whistler became the major influence on Murphy’s art, inspiring his preference for gentle, refined palettes and simplified, tonally unified compositions.

On the completion of his studies in Paris, Murphy settled in Boston, where he became active in a number of Boston artists’ associations including the Copley Society, the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, the Guild of Boston Artists, and the Boston Society of Water Color Painters. He exhibited with these groups as well as with the New York Water Color Club. In 1903, Murphy built his home and studio in Winchester, Massachusetts, to which he gave the Celtic name of "Carrig-Rohane." From 1931 to 1937, Murphy taught art at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In the spirit of Whistler, shortly after his return from Europe, Murphy began to create frames for his own works that harmonized with the images portrayed. When he moved to Winchester, he was joined in a framing business by Charles Prendergast, who shared his aesthetic. Working from a shop in the basement of Murphy’s home, the two artists produced frames inscribed "Carrig-Rohane" after Murphy’s home. The hard-carved gold-leafed frames they created suited the gentle images created by many of the leading artists of the time. In 1905, the two artists moved their shop to Boston. At first the frames were carved according to Murphy’s designs, but eventually the company hired artists and the shop entered into a partnership with Vose Galleries of Boston.

Murphy’s art may be divided into three periods. In the first, beginning from the time of his return from Paris until the early 1910s, he focused on portraiture and figural studies, using soft colors creating decorative, aesthetically refined compositions. He also created landscapes, working in Massachusetts in Winchester, Cape Cod, and Marblehead, and in Woodstock, New York and Ogunquit, Maine. These works featured quiet tonal schemes and abstractly arranged compositions reflecting the influence of Whistler.

In the mid-1910s through the 1920s, Murphy’s second period, he derived inspiration from several trips to the tropics, especially to Puerto Rico. These works reveal a range of brighter, richer colors and looser, more energetic brushwork.

In Murphy’s third period, the 1920s and 1930s, he concentrated on producing still lifes, working in a vibrant Impressionist style.

Murphy received many honors in the course of his career. He received medals at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901 and from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis in 1904. In 1911, the City Art Museum of Saint Louis held a three-person show, featuring the art of Murphy along with that of Augustus Vincent Tack and William Baxter Closson.

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Hermann Murphy is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
New York Armory Show of 1913
Impressionists Pre 1940
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Tonalism



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