Wednesday, May 28, 2014

George Hitchcock

Fields of colorful Dutch flowers, portrayals of everyday life in the low country, evocative portraits of the 'common folk' . . . these are the subjects that George Hitchcock chose to focus upon in his wonderful late 19th century canvases. Another one of my recent 'discoveries' while visiting The Art Institute of Chicago a month ago, American painter, George Hitchcock, born in Rhode Island in the mid part of the 19th century, spent several decades residing in Holland toward the end of the century, capturing the flavor and feel of the country that he so came to love. 

As noted in my posting of May 12th, the two works seen in Chicago, The Annunciation and Flower Girl in Holland, made me desirous of finding out more about Hitchcock, with whom I had not previously been familiar, so I spent some time over the last week seeking out more information about him on line. 

Foregoing joining so many of his American expat fellow artists who landed in Paris during the later half of the 19th century, after traveling around in Holland he decided to put down his paints and easel in Egmond on the North Sea coast where he would remain painting and teaching through the early years of the 1900s.

I was very taken with his two works in the collection in Chicago and equally so upon finding many more examples of his work over this last week. Here are a few of my favorites pulled from various sites on line. These first two works, below, show his love of the Dutch countryside and town life - Grazing Sheep - left, and Dutch Flower Girls.

I was especially taken with his figurative studies, two of which are shown above. The Christening - left and Calypso, are lovely examples of his soft brush work and evocations of mood. I very much like his delineations of fabric and the different character and feel given to each material in these two works, as well as his intricate yet brushy detailing of the head wear in The Christening.
The next two works also show very emotive poses of his subjects - The Wayfarers (left) and Milkmaid - with the one on the right particularly interesting to me in the way in which Hitchcock developed a very strong 'S' compositional design, moving the eye from the lower left into the work and following along through the vertical of the figure across to the path that moves back and across the bridge and up through that opening in the distant tree line and across the top margin as the trees become darker and more defined as they move across to the upper right corner of the canvas.

In the next pairing of figurative works, on the left - Looking Out to Sea, on the right - Dream of Christmas, Hitchcock again gives his subjects a strong emotional hold over this viewer, enhancing the strength of that connection through equally evocative and moody surroundings.

In this last work that I've selected as one of my favorites (below), Hitchcock develops religious overtones as he did in The Annunciation viewed in Chicago. The Flight Into Egypt, shy of its title,  might otherwise have been a lovely, simple and softly rendered landscape in my view, with its rather monochromatic palette and serene beauty, but Hitchcock has imbued it with that stronger connection to religiosity, even without the title, in such a subtle manner that it certainly drew me in even though I am not generally drawn toward works with that stronger connotation and especially those that tend to be more hard handed and intense.

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