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William Hart

 (1823 - 1894)
William Hart was active/lived in New York / United Kingdom, Scotland.  William Hart is known for landscape, cattle, genre, and coastal painting (Hudson River).

William Hart

Biography from the Archives of askART

Note from Letitia Hart, descendant of the artist:

James and Marion Hart and seven of their children, including James M. Hart age 1 yr., 9 mos., and William Hart age 6 yrs., 10 mos., came from Scotland to New York on the ship, Camillus.  They landed on February 12, 1830. This information comes from a hand written record at the National Archives.  The year of arrival is illegible because of the poor handwriting of the clerk at the dock. The manifest lists the parents and seven children and their ages.  Based upon the known birthdates of the family and the ages listed on the manifest, my arithmetic calculates that the ship arrived in 1830.

Obituary of the artist, New York Daily Tribune, June 18, 1894, courtesy of Ashley Bracken, a family member.

William Hart, NA., the well-known artist, died yesterday at his home in Mount Vernon, N.Y.  Mr. Hart was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1823 and came to this country with his parents when a child. He was apprenticed to a coach maker in Albany, for whom he painted panel decorations.  He then became a portrait painter, and later a landscape-painter.  In 1840, he exhibited his first work at the National Academy.  In 1850, he visited Scotland, and remained there three years.  He was made an associate of the National Academy in 1853 and Academician in 1859.  He was the first president of the Brooklyn Academy of Design.  One of his best known works is The Golden Hour, at one time in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and now, according to Vernon Goode, is privately owned. (2003)

Throughout his life Mr. Hart was sincerely devoted to his art, and the high mercantile value of his paintings was but a minor incentive to the constant effort that advanced him from a laborer and a painter of vehicles to the front rank of his profession.  He was honored in his calling and in society, and was the recipient of many unsought testimonials.  His wife died about a month ago, and her death affected him greatly.  Three children survive him.  He was a brother of James M. Hart, both depicting somewhat kindred subjects.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in Paisley, Scotland, William Hart became known for serene, bucolic, romantic landscapes with smooth finely executed brush-work.  Many of his paintings had cattle and realistic figures diminished in the landscape, a motif he began in the late 1880s when he was inspired by the Lower Keene Valley in northern New York state.  Hart also painted portraits, beginning this subject matter when he was age 18.

He, as well as his brother James McDougal Hart, was a second generation "Hudson River School" painter, and a sister, Julie Hart Beers was also a successful artist. George Inness and Asher Durand were major influences, although he was basically self taught.

Hart was the first president of the Brooklyn Academy of Design and also an instructor there.  He was founder and three-term president of the American Watercolor Society, and his popular landscapes were exhibited regularly at the National Academy of Design and the American Art Union.  He was a highly regarded teacher, and pupils included Homer Martin and Lemuel Miles.

He studied art in Scotland for three years and came to Troy, New York in 1831 as a young boy and apprenticed to Eaton and Gilbert Coachmakers where he painted decorative panels.  Then he worked as a window-shade decorator and portrait painter, working from his father's woodshed and selling them for five dollars a piece. He spent time in Scotland and then returned to the United States, establishing studios in Albany, New York City and Brooklyn.  He and his wife, Janet Wallace of Scotland, lived the last part of their lives in Mount Vernon, New York, likely to be near the wife and children of a son, who had died at age 37.

After 1849, Hart traveled throughout the United States including to Richmond, Virginia, and Michigan where he spent several years.

Many of his paintings are dramatic seascapes depicting the coast of Maine, especially from Grand Manan Island.

Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art

Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.
William Hart is a formidable Hudson River School artist who painted portraits, landscapes, allegorical and genre paintings.

He was born in Paisley, Scotland on March 31, 1823, five years before his brother and fellow painter James Hart (1828-1901).  The Harts moved to Albany, New York in 1831.  William apprenticed to a carriage maker, but by the time he was 18 he turned to portrait painting.

In 1840, he began to travel across the country painting landscapes, and by 1845 he had painted in Troy, New York; Richmond, Virginia; and in Michigan, where he spent three years.  After a brief trip to Scotland, he returned to Albany in 1847 and opened a studio in New York City in 1854.

Hart painted Peace and Plenty the following year.  In 1855, he was elected an Associate of the National Academy after having established his reputation as a fine landscape painter with Peace and Plenty.  In 1858, he was elected a Full Member of National Academy of Design in New York City, and in 1865, was a founder and President of the American Water Color Society from 1870 to 1873.

He was a frequent exhibitor in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and Washington.  His last years were spent in Mt. Vernon, New York, where he died on June 17, 1894.  His work is represented in the Metropolitan Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the National Gallery, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and in many other museums and institutions.

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About  William Hart

Born:  1823 - Paisley, Scotland
Died:   1894 - Mount Vernon, New York
Known for:  landscape, cattle, genre, and coastal painting (Hudson River)

Essays referring to
William Hart

Hudson River School Painters