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 Lynn Bogue Hunt  (1878 - 1960)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: illustration-outdoor genre, wildlife

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Ad Code: 2
Lynn Bogue Hunt
from Auction House Records.
Blue-Fin Tuna
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
From the introduction to the book, Lynn Bogue Hunt: A Sporting Life by Kevin C. Shelly:  Submitted by the author.

Lynn Bogue Hunt lived in two worlds throughout his 82 years.  Born into a well-off family, he grew up poor, raised by a single parent: the tattered coat worn to his high school graduation was patched and let out; his mismatched pants second-hand. Money mattered to Hunt the rest of his life.

One of his favorite sayings as an adult was: "Art for art's sake, but money for God's sake!"  During the Depression his popular and prolific artwork earned him as much as $50,000 a year - about $650,000 in today's dollars.  He had money enough then for a maid and a fashionable Long Island address.  Concerned with appearances, Hunt dressed meticulously, even when fishing. An immaculate white smock protected his customary painting attire: suit, tie and starched white shirt.

But Hunt spent money faster than he made it.  A poor businessman who did not plan for the future, he had spent his wealth by the time he died.

Contradictions marked Hunt's life: Indifferent in the classroom, he assisted scientists as an adult.  Though he told family and teachers that he felt most at home in the woods, he resided in or near New York City for more than 57 years.  Described as friendly and gregarious, he also struck those who knew him as quiet and self-effacing.  An early conservationist and ardent animal lover, he killed thousands of game animals and fish.  But he also advocated catch-and-release gamefishing as early as 1935 and supported Ducks Unlimited's habitat restoration.  An urbane man, member of the arty Dutch Treat Club, welcomed at the acerbic Algonquin Roundtable and exclusive Angler's Club, Hunt also was an ordinary suburban commuter much of his adult life, known to his grandchildren as "Papa Toot Toot" because of his daily travel on the Long Island Railroad.

Embarrassed by and ultimately estranged from his independent wife, the artist openly kept a mistress.  As a result, Hunt's wife sometimes spent months alone on the east coast of Florida while Hunt simultaneously went to the west coast of Florida, fishing and painting in the company of his girlfriend.  Despite their estrangement, Hunt's wife unstintingly cared for him during his last decade, as he grew increasingly dependent when infirmities and lost eyesight stopped his work.

His first published magazine illustration - a line drawing of a strutting grouse accompanying a story he wrote - appeared inside Sports Afield in 1897.  A 1951 cover painting of mallards coming in for Field & Stream - his 106th cover illustration for that magazine alone - book-ended an astounding 54-year-career as a leading wildlife artist during the Golden Age of magazine illustration.

Hunt made some of the most recognizable sporting art ever created, including one of the earliest Duck Stamps.  He illustrated more than 40 books, executed hundreds of commissioned paintings for corporations and private clients ranging from small canvases to huge hotel murals, completed about 250 separate cover paintings for nearly 40 different magazine titles, including all the top sporting publications and also general interest publications such as Boy's Life, Collier's, Better Homes and Garden, and the Saturday Evening Post.

Despite Hunt's prolific working life and high profile friendships with Ernest Hemingway and other influential sportsmen of his time, only a handful of stories were written about the artist during his lifetime - or since he died.  He began, but never finished, an autobiography.  He has never previously been the subject of a biographical book.  And the first major showing of his dramatic artwork came more than four decades after his death.

Hopefully this book will renew interest in Lynn Bogue Hunt, one of the best sporting artists of the 20th century, and a fascinating and complex man.

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