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Alfred Hart

 (1816 - 1906)
Alfred A. Hart was active/lived in California, New York, Connecticut.  Alfred Hart is known for murals, landscape and portrait painting-notables, railroad photographer.

Alfred Hart

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Alfred Hart
Born in Norwich, CT on March 28, 1816. Hart began his art studies in Norwich and continued in NYC. He moved to Hartford, CT in 1848 and exhibited panoramas there and in NYC in 1852. A resident of Hartford until the early 1860s, he then moved to Cleveland, OH where he established an art supplies store. Shortly thereafter, Hart traveled to California and was active in the Mother Lode area. In 1866 he was commissioned by the Central Pacific Railroad to photograph the construction of the railroad between Sacramento and Utah. For a few years he maintained a photography studio in Sacramento at the corner of Third and J streets before settling in San Francisco. Primarily a landscape painter, Hart contributed works to the Arriola Relief Fund in San Francisco (1872) and advertised in the San Francisco City Directory of 1875 as a portrait painter. He died on March 5, 1906 in Oakland, CA. Exh: Calif. State Fair, 1869, 1872 (gold medal); Mechanics' Inst. (SF), 1871-78; San Francisco Art Association, 1872-78. In: Redwood Library (Newport, RI); Mattatuck Hist. Society (Waterbury, CT); Connecticut Hist. Society (Hartford); Kansas City Museum of History & Science.

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (Fielding, Mantle); New York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America (Groce, George C. and David H. Wallace).

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Alfred Hart
Alfred Hart is best known as a painter and a photographer active in California after 1860.

He was born in Norwich, Connecticut in 1816 where he stayed for the earlier part of his art education. Hart then lived for a number of years in Hartford, Connecticut, where he had moved in 1848, and he exhibited there and in New York City. From Connecticut, he relocated to Cleveland, Ohio, where he operated an art supply business.

Hart then traveled to California, where he settled briefly in Sacramento while he worked as a photographer for the Central Pacific Railroad. He was responsible for photographing the railroad line between Utah and Sacramento. He moved to San Francisco in the 1870s and exhibited his portrait paintings at the San Francisco Art Association (1872-1878). He also received a gold medal at the California State Fair (1872).

Known for his landscapes, Hart contributed some of his artwork to the Arriola Relief Fund exhibition in 1872. Hart died in 1906 in Alameda County, California.

Biography from Leonard Davenport Fine Arts / LSDArt
In addition to his early reputation as a muralist, Hart was a successful portrait artist, with commissions of notable figures including the Rev. Samuel Nott.

In 1857, Hart went into partnership with the Hartford daguerreotyper Henry H. Bartlett, a pioneer in the field, who claimed to have set up shop in Hartford in 1845. Several years later, Hart moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to open a store selling picture frames, engravings and photographic supplies.  He also earned several patents for photography.  By 1863, he is listed as an established portrait photographer there, though one collection of Hart photographs includes California photographs dated as 1862.

By 1865, Hart was in California taking stereographic views along the line of track under construction by the Central Pacific Railroad.  In 1866, he was named official photographer for the C.P.R.R.  For the next three years, he documented construction of the railroad across the mountains and onto the high plains of Utah, photographing the joining of the rails at Promontory Point, Utah in 1869.

The C.P.R.R. selected 364 stereopgraphs for their official series of the construction, and Hart sold additional views to Lawrence & Houseworth in New York City for publication and distribution.  His "highly artistic railroad views were much more than mere documentation; they were such fine examples of photographic imagery that they were able to help set a trend of producing stereo cards in special series independent of the railway commission and separate from large publishers."

He also took some of the earliest photographs of Yosemite for Lawrence & Houseworth in his series of California views.

His photographs are the centerpiece of the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum.  Recent books include The Railroad Photographs of Alfred A. Hart, Artist by Mead B. Kibby and Central Pacific Railroad Across Nevada, 1868 & 1967 by Lawrence K. Hersh.

After he was replaced by Carleton Watkins at the railroad (who sold copies of Hart's photographs under his own name), Hart returned to painting.  In 1870, Hart was in Denver, Colorado painting portraits and landscapes; in 1872, he was back in San Francisco, continuing to paint.  He was awarded the gold medal for his paintings at an exhibition at the California State Fair in 1872.

From 1879 until his death in California March 5, 1908, he apparently moved back and forth regularly between New York and California, working at a variety of jobs.

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About  Alfred Hart

Born:  1816 - Norwich, Connecticut
Died:   1906 - Alameda County, California
Known for:  murals, landscape and portrait painting-notables, railroad photographer