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 Hunter Wood  (1908 - 1948)

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Lived/Active: United States      Known for: marine-ship portrait

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Ad Code: 3
Hunter Wood
from Auction House Records.
Aristides, A British Ship, 1938
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Hunter Wood was born in 1908 at Babylon, Long Island, the son of the famous marine painter Worden George Wood who served aboard the Clipper "Yankee" in the Spanish-American War and the great-grandson of John L. Worden who commanded the "Monitor" in its fight against the "Merrimac" in the Civil War.

After a brief period of formal education, Hunter Wood at seventeen, entered the New York Merchant Marine Academy, and his experiences at sea became the references for the subject matter of his paintings.

He was first on the training ship "Newport", a three masted barkentine, single topsail and top-gallant, the old order windjammer of the heavy canvas type sailing the seven seas.

At the end of his training on the "Newport", Wood was in charge of the fore top-gallant, the main topmast stay-sail and the mezzin gaff topsail. He had mastered the long oar and was given the rating of coxswain of the Captain's gig, or personal boat. His training on the "Newport" included being put overboard in test training, and handling the life boats in heavy seas, which gave him experience needed one stormy night with a high sea running when he had to put out to rescue a stricken man from the British freighter a thousand miles north of the Canaries, and again to take the tow-line from the Coast Guard Cutter "Chelane" when the "Newport" was disabled.

After his graduation from the first adventurous period at the age of twenty-five, Wood sailed as quartermaster for several of the large shipping companies, barging back and forth from one ship to another, the last of which was the "Leviathan."

In his maritime paintings, Wood attempts to have accuracy in details such as rigging and proportions.

Written and submitted October 2004 by Harry F. Marks

Sources include:
Davenport's Art Reference and Price Guide 2003/2004 Edition
Art Collector, Victor Fernandez

Biography from Williams American Art Galleries:
Hunter Wood was born in 1908 in Babylon, Long Island, New York.  His love of sailing and talent for painting can be traced back in his family to his great grandfather, John L. Worden.   He was commander of the Monitor in its battle against the Merrimac in the Civil War.  Hunter’s own father was a successful marine painter and sailor.   Worden George Wood served aboard the clipper Yankee in the Spanish-American War and also in World War I.   His father, Worden Wood’s, artwork touched the lives of many due to its wide circulation.   His paintings were on postcards, his pen & ink drawings were on magazine covers such as Yachting, and some were used as children’s book illustrations.  Worden Wood married a silent movie star (one of the Florodora girls).   They divorced in 1911 when Hunter was very young and he grew up emulating his father; something which would prove to be detrimental.

After a brief formal education and at the age of seventeen Hunter Wood left school and joined the New York Merchant Marines.   He trained aboard a ship called the Newport before earning the rating of coxswain of the Captain’s personal boat.  His maritime career was dappled with tales of heroism, all of which demonstrated his adept sailing skills.   Once at high sea he had to rescue a man during a storm from a British freighter one thousand miles north of the Canaries.   By the age of 25 Hunter Wood was sailing as quartermaster for several large shipping companies. Hunter’s father had been spending more time drinking and less time at sea.    He died in 1943 and one documented story said, “As I hear it [Hunter] Wood’s father died of alcohol and Hunter inherited the tendency. [At] Coast Guard Headquarters Wood kept the urn on his desk to the discomfiture of his associates. In time he was persuaded to keep the urn in the office safe. Occasionally he would take ‘dad’ out for a drink at O’Donnell’s (New London) depositing dad on the bar. Apparently there were complaints and Hunter was convinced dad would like a burial at sea. A cutter was used for the purpose quite illegally.”

Something good came from Hunter’s father, the artistic talent that he passed on to his son.   Hunter Wood was a marine illustrator for several firms, including the United States Lines, the French Line, the Macmillian Company and the former United States Shipping Board. He was also on the staff of The World and The New York Herald in New York and The Boston Herald.  He was a member of the 7th Regiment N. Y. N. G.   Making sure that rigging and proportions were accurate was very important to the artist.  He died in 1948, shortly after his father.

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