Art in the Hudson Valley: Past and Present

By Madison Petrella

In honor of the upcoming 4th annual Artists on the Street event, HHS has decided to take a look at a famous Hudson Valley artist and a member of the Huguenot Street family: D.F. Hasbrouck. Though largely unknown on a national scale, Hasbrouck is a notable figure in Hudson Valley history, famous for his wooded landscapes of the Catskill region, in particular Ulster and Delaware Counties.

Dubois Fenelon Hasbrouck (1860-1934) was born in Pine Hill, NY to Josiah Louis Hasbrouck and Mary Smith. He is also the descendent of two of the twelve original patentees: Jean Hasbrouck and Louis Dubois.1 Raised on a farm, Hasbrouck was first inspired by art when a well-known artist by the name of J.G. Brown stopped in Pine Hill during his sketching tour of the Catskills. Hasbrouck was captivated by what he witnessed Brown creating and was inspired to give it a try. He created his own work of art on a wooden board using simple farm tools and house paint. Even though the tools used were crude, when Hasbrouck showed his accomplishment to Brown the latter could plainly see the young boy’s natural talent and was impressed. Before moving on, Brown gifted to Hasbrouck a few of his art supplies and suggested he make a career out of his talent, a suggestion Hasbrouck took to heart.

Although his father believed that he should focus his attention towards his duties on the farm, Hasbrouck was determined in his passion and found support in close friends, particularly Reverend Howard Crosby who frequently rented a room on the Hasbrouck property.2 The Reverend purchased the first painting Hasbrouck completed after his encounter with J.G. Brown and remained a lifelong supporter, frequently purchasing Hasbrouck’s works and helping him to move to New York City in order to study the art scene there. Impressively, Hasbrouck was mostly self-taught with the exception of a few classes of perspective he took during a winter semester at Cooper Union in 1879.3

One of Hasbrouck’s early paintings was accepted into the 1884 fall exhibit of the National Academy of Design, a prestigious honor. Another painting was accepted again into the 1888 exhibit. This painting was entitled Winter Morning in the Catskills and was also selected to be displayed in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago where it was purchased by prominent art collector and businessman, James W. Ellsworth.4 Additionally, Hasbrouck’s paintings were accepted to the Brooklyn Art Association, the Boston Art Club, and the Art Institute of Chicago.5 Thus began a prosperous career, but one that resulted in relative obscurity by the time of his death.

The piece I focus on today is a unique watercolor. This piece is a photo of the artist, embellished with watercolor. A brown tree with foliage surrounds a photo of Hasbrouck, sitting with a book. The watercolor dates to 1906, while the photograph was taken in 1895 by E.D. Lewis in Kingston, New York.

D F Hasbrouck

D F Hasbrouck

Today, D.F. Hasbrouck is unknown to the average American and is not one of the American greats that are studied in art history classes; however, his art can be found in a number of museums across the country, including the National Gallery of Art in D.C., the San Diego Museum of Art, and right here at Historic Huguenot Street.6 In particular, the Zadock Pratt Museum curated an exhibition in 2014 in honor of Hasbrouck. Perhaps most impressively, the Zadock Pratt Museum while researching Hasbrouck’s life and works received significant help from a small community of people in Stamford, NY (where Hasbrouck spent most of his life). These residents made it a point to lovingly preserve his memory and his legacy by collecting a small but significant collection of his paintings, proving that you don’t need to be the most prominent artist of your generation for your legacy to live on long after your death and inspire a community of people.

1 Walsh, Suzanne M. The Paintings, Watercolors, and Drawings of D.F. Hasbrouck: American Impressionist (1859-1917). Prattsville, New York: Zadock Pratt Museum, 2014. Print.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 “Dubois Fenelon Hasbrouck (1860–1934).” Questroyal Fine Art LLC, New York, n.d. Web. 15 July 2016.

6 Ibid.

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