George Hitchcock


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Painter. Living abroad during most of his career, he became known for Dutch landscapes and peasant scenes, some with religious overtones. Despite his Netherlandish subjects, he worked to satisfy the interests and tastes of Paris, where he regularly and successfully exhibited. With time, his realist style veered toward the bright colors and brilliant sunlight of impressionism. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, he graduated from Brown University in 1872 and received a law degree from Harvard two years later. While subsequently in practice in Providence and New York, he painted watercolors. In 1879 he left for Europe, where he studied in London, Paris, Düsseldorf, and The Hague. The first of many American painters attracted to the picturesque village of Egmond-aan-Zee, on the North Sea about twenty-five miles from Amsterdam, he began working there in the early 1880s. Although he often spent winters in Paris and occasionally visited the United States, he maintained a studio in Egmond for the rest of his life and died not far away at Marken. Between the mid-1880s and mid-1890s, an aura of religious devotion often suffused his images of peasants, relating these works to the period's romantic attribution of piety and virtue to unsophisticated people. Blessed Mother (Cleveland Museum of Art, 1892) conflates a Dutch maid and her infant with the Virgin in an ambiguous yet moving conception of female purity. Hieratically “enthroned” on a heavy wood chair idiosyncratically placed in a sunlit, flower-filled meadow, the young Madonna gazes solemnly but expectantly ahead. Only an unobtrusive, translucent halo, rising just above her lacy head covering, refers overtly to spiritual content. Later he abandoned such subjects to concentrate on straightforward views of the colorful, flower-filled fields of Holland.

Subjects: Art.

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