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 Joseph Henry Hidley  (1830 - 1872)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: naive birdseye townscapes, religious

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Joseph H. Headley is primarily known as Joseph Henry Hidley

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Joseph Henry Hidley
from Auction House Records.
Banks of the Hudson
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Joseph H. Hidley', whose paintings depicted townscapes and rural life in New England, was virtually unknown as an artist during his lifetime of forty-two years which ended in death from consumption. He was born in 1830 in Greenbush, New York, and left an orphan at the age of four when his father died, preceded in death by three other siblings of the young Hidley. When he later married, only three of his six children lived beyond infancy.

In terms of making a livelihood as an artist, it was a scrabbling existence for survival, working, when he could find a job, at anything that came to hand to make a dollarhandyman, carpenter, house-painter, even taxidermist and church sexton and, of course, an artist. He painted landscapes and townscapes, for which he later became known, wood carvings and religious paintings. As a taxidermist, he made decorative arrangements of stuffed animals, dried flowers and other materials. When he married in 1853, settling in Poestenkill, New York, he did whatever he could to survive and support a family.

Hidley was a self-taught, intuitive artist, to whom it was as natural as breathing to respond to the varieties of visual beauty he saw in everyday life around him. He painted many of the same locations over a number of years.

Among other work, Hidley is known for four paintings on wood panels of Poestenkill, New York, painted with short, controlled strokes over a preliminary pencil sketch drawn on cream-colored grounds. The earliest of these, painted May 10, 1862, is realistic in its viewpoint. In the three later paintings, Hidley created views from an imaginary aerial perspective.

Long after Joseph H. Hidley's difficult life had come to an end, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh created awareness of his work by an exhibition in 1941. Now widely known, the artist's paintings may be seen today at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, Williamsburg, Virginia.

Michael David Zellman, "300 Years of American Art"

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