George Henry Hall
1825-1913 | American
Signed and dated "Geo. H. Hall / 1870" (lower right)
Oil on canvas
George Henry Hall was perhaps the most popular and highly esteemed American still life painter of his generation. In the present painting, completed at the height of his career, Hall brilliantly conjures with his brush a lush bouquet of spring flowers. With its intricate textures and brilliant color arrangement, the composition demonstrates the meticulous realism and attention to detail for which Hall is renowned.
This painting, celebrating the color and rebirth of springtime, was originally completed as part of a series of four works representing the four seasons. The exuberant pink, yellow and white flowers in this composition are displayed simply, arranged in a natural setting on a mossy forest floor with a dark background serving to further highlight the floral display. The work is painted in the brushy, atmospheric, and painterly style that has come to be identified with Hall's most important mature works, reflecting a more modern approach to this traditional genre. Hall's remarkable artistry immortalizes these flowers, as vibrant today as when they first bloomed.
The work was painted during his years in Palenville, New York, the hamlet where Hall made his country home. This picturesque region attracted innumerable artists thanks to the spectacular local scenery, and it became a particular favorite of the Hudson River School artists, notably the great Thomas Cole. While most of the artists enamored with the region were landscape painters, Hall was among the few genre and still life painters who visited the area. His works, such as Spring, though a still life, still brilliantly capture the character of the region.
Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Hall began his career as a self-taught portrait and genre painter, working in Boston from 1842 to 1849. He first exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum in 1846 and showed there regularly through 1868. In 1848, Hall extended his patronage horizon to New York City, selling three pictures to the American Art-Union. The Art-Union also purchased Hall's paintings in 1849, which allowed him to travel to Düsseldorf with his friend and colleague Eastman Johnson to study at the city's famed art academy.
He returned to New York in 1852 and soon thereafter began to exhibit at the National Academy of Design, where he was elected an associate academician. Hall would continue to exhibit energetically throughout his career, maintaining a steady presence in the major annual exhibitions of his day until his death in 1913. Today, his works can be found in the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington D.C.), the Worcester Art Museum (Massachusetts) and the Georgia Museum of Art (Athens, GA), among other institutions.
Canvas: 15 3/4" high x 24" wide
Frame: 23" high x 31 1/8" wide
National Academy of Design, New York, 1871, 46th Annual Exhibition
Clara Erskine Clement Waters and Laurence Hutton, Artists of the Nineteenth Centuryand Their Works, 1879; revised ed., 1884 (illustrated p. 325 as The Seasons)