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 Harry Leslie Hoffman  (1871/1874 - 1964)

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Lived/Active: Connecticut      Known for: landscape, still life and underwater view painting

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Harry Leslie Hoffman
from Auction House Records.
"Nassau Harbor"
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A man with strong academic art training, Harry Hoffman was judged by his peers to have done best with his landscapes when he painted what he saw and set aside the theories. He studied in Paris, worked at Yale University with John Ferguson Weir, and was a student at the Art Students League with Frank DuMond. But Willard Metcalf had the strongest influence, encouraging Hoffman to paint in the style of impressionism.

In 1902, Hoffman went to Old Lyme, Connecticut, and stayed at the Florence Griswold House, returning for many subsequent summers. At one point, when he was exceptionally low on money, he nearly became a professional baseball player, but was dissuaded by his painter friends.

He married Beatrice Pope from East Orange, New Jersey, who was also staying at the Griswold House, and they lived in Old Lyme. In the 1920s, he had a reputation for his underwater life paintings, having made a bucket with a glass bottom that he floated on the water for special vantage points. Intrigued by the many colors he found in the ocean, he accompanied the naturalist William Beebe on research trips to the Galapagos Islands, Bermuda, and British Guiana.

In 1930, he was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design. He was also very helpful to Florence Griswold in her old age when she was about to lose her house. Successfully avoiding that loss, he served as the treasurer and fund raiser of monies to save it as a home during her lifetime and as a museum when she died.

Hoffman lived to be ninety-two years old, the longest lived of the Old Lyme painters.


Source:
American Art Review
Robert Torchia, "Lost Colony of St. Augustine"
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from Keith Kelman, K. Nathan Gallery, La Jolla, California

Harry Hoffman was actually born in 1871 and died in 1964. You had his birth and death dates listed as (1874-1966). The book on Hoffman, A World of Color, lists the correct dates. He lied about his age while in Old Lyme because he didn't want to seem like the "old man" of the group. I don't know where you got the 1966 death date, but I kind of recall seeing it in one of the old American art reference books.


Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
Harry Leslie Hoffman was born 16 March 1874 at Cressona, Pennsylvania. He was long associated with the Old Lyme Colony at Old Lyme, Connecticut, and had a reputation for American Impressionism.

Hoffman studied at the Art Students League, New York City, Yale Art School, and Academie Julien, Paris. In 1902 he visited Old Lyme and for the rest of his life was associated with the Connecticut art colony.

In the 1920s Hoffman accompanied the Smithsonian Institution's naturalist, William Beebe (1877-1962) to British Guiana, Galapagos Islands, and Bermuda, to document the flora and fauna of those regions. During that time he perfected a method of painting undersea vistas. Using a bucket with a glass bottom, he was able to view the aquatic life of coral reefs and shallow tidal pools.

Hoffman wed the painter, Beatrice Pope, and they had an active collaboration throughout their lives. He worked in a variety of media, including watercolors, oils, and clay sculpture, and found success throughout his life. In 1915 he won a gold medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, and was awarded prizes in Connecticut for his painting and sculpture.

In addition to his long painting career, Hoffman was a writer, actor, and musician. He was active in the historic preservation of the Florence Griswold House, the intellectual center of the Old Lyme Colony, as a museum. Hoffman died at Old Lyme, Connecticut, 6 March 1966.

Biography from The Johnson Collection:
Harry Leslie Hoffman was born in Cressona, a small community in Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill Valley. His mother was an amateur artist who encouraged her son to pursue a career in the arts. In 1893, Hoffman entered the School of Art at Yale University and studied with John Ferguson Weir, the son of Robert Walter Weir. After graduation in 1897, Hoffman moved to New York to continue his studies at the Art Students League. He also traveled to Paris and took classes at the Académie Julien.

In the summer of 1902, Hoffman attended the Lyme Summer School of Art, in the town of Old Lyme on the Connecticut coast. The school was headed by Frank Vincent Dumond and was located in a boarding house owned by Florence Griswold. The school eventually grew into an artists’ colony and a center for American Impressionism. When Hoffman first arrived as a student, he was not permitted to stay in the house which was designated for the professional artists only. However, his outgoing personality soon won him many friends at the colony.

In 1905, Hoffman settled in Old Lyme and worked as a full member of the artist colony. He was particularly influenced by Willard Leroy Metcalf, an Impressionist also working in Old Lyme. Fellow artists later fondly recalled Hoffman’s antics at the Griswold house, which included playing the flute and banjo, tap-dancing, singing humorous songs, and performing magic tricks. In 1910 Hoffman married another Old Lyme artist named Beatrice Pope, and the couple had one child in 1921.

Hoffman and his wife often escaped New England during the harsh winter months. In the winters of 1914 and 1915 he traveled to Savannah, Georgia with fellow Old Lyme artist William Chadwick. Hoffman depicted urban genre scenes around the city and was inspired by the soft hazy light created by the tropical climate. Hoffman’s Savannah paintings feature loose, Impressionistic brushwork and vibrant, saturated colors. In 1916, he visited the Bahamas and became interested in seascapes and underwater scenes. During the early twenties, Hoffman accompanied renowned naturalist William Beebe as a staff artist on expeditions to the Galapagos Islands, British Guiana, and Bermuda.

Throughout his career, Hoffman was a member of numerous art associations and clubs including the Salmagundi Club, the National Arts Club, the New York Watercolor Club, and he was elected as an associate member of the National Academy of Design in 1930. He was awarded a gold medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915 and won the Eaton Prize, bestowed by the Lyme Art Association in 1924. His work is now located in private and permanent collections throughout the United States.

The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina
www.thejohnsoncollection.org

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Harry Hoffman is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Old Lyme Colony Painters
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915



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