“We strive in our early years to learn our craft; therefore we search for a master teacher who has demonstrated this in his own work. Afterwards, there comes a long period of growth during which we experiment, embracing some ideas for fuller development and discarding others not useful to our creative needs. When our work begins to reveal individuality, it is still essential to pursue an honest an honest observation of nature interpreted within the framework of varied compositions of our invention. If we fail at this point, we run the risk of displaying mannerisms that will inhibit our artistic growth. This is no small matter. It is a formidable challenge that we try to meet with all our resources. Yet the measure of our artistic success rests in the evaluation of generations yet to come.” ~ Robert Douglas Hunter, 2005
If there were a brick and mortar educational art institution called “The Boston School”, then Robert Douglas Hunter would surely be its Dean. As it is, the label Boston School is applied rather loosely to artists who have received much of their training from master painters whose techniques are derived from R.H. Ives Gammell’s adaptation of French atelier instruction. In this sense as well, Hunter has long been recognized as an informal “Dean” of the movement, adding his own particular signature to the Boston School emphasis on carefully planned compositions, accurate drawing, and a delight in the ability of light and shadow to create atmosphere in painting. He has personally taught well over forty students who are now accomplished full time professional artists, and in turn these students and their students have been responsible for training many others.
Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1928, Hunter served in the Marines before graduating from the Vesper George School of Art in 1949. He studied with Henry Hensche, and then intensively with R.H. Ives Gammell from 1950 to 1955. Simultaneously in 1950 he began a teaching career at the Vesper George School of Art which lasted until the school closed in 1983. He also taught at the Worcester Art Museum from 1965 to 1975.
Hunter has won more than thirty regional and national prizes, including the first John Singleton Copley Award (1966), and fourteen Gold Medals at the annual exhibition of New England artists held by the Jordan Marsh Company, Boston. In recognition of his painting and teaching, he has won a Citation from the Governor of Massachusetts (1979). He was the first winner of the Copley Medallion (1988); and was the 1989 winner of the Guild of Boston Artists Award.
He was featured in a major article in American Artist magazine (September, 1990), and is listed in Who's Who in American Art, Prize Winning Art, and Who's Who in the East. In early 2001, the Cape Cod Museum of Art opened a new naturally lit gallery named in Hunter’s honor, and mounted a retrospective exhibition of his paintings in the new space.
A member of the Copley Society of Boston, the Guild of Boston Artists, the Provincetown Art Association, and the Allied Artists of America, Hunter has paintings in the collections of the Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, N.C.; the Chrysler Art Museum, Norfolk, Virginia; the Maryhill Museum in Goldendale, Washington, (Solo Exhibition, 1988); The Michelson Museum of Art, Marshall, Texas; and the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, Pennsylvania. His work is also in collections at Harvard University, Northeastern University, Phillips Andover Academy, Tufts University, and in numerous private and corporate collections including the New England Life Insurance Company and the John Hancock Insurance Company.