Hey there, my name is Emily Finan and I’m the new Curatorial/Collections intern this semester! I’m currently a Junior at SUNY New Paltz, majoring in art history and minoring in history.
This week’s object is a painting by Rachel Maria Hasbrouck. The oil on canvas is dated 1892, and is a reproduction of a renowned oil painting originally created by Hugo Salmson in 1884 entitled, The Dalby Gate, Skane. Originally exhibited in the “Modern Young Girls” exhibit in Musée d’Orsay from June 6 to September 24, 1989, Salmson’s piece portrays the exhibit’s theme of the emerging young heroine, common in the contemporary literature of Victor Hugo. Salmson depicts a snapshot of mundane life in the Swedish countryside, portraying a peasant woman holding an infant, flanked by an adolescent boy and girl. Each figure, save the young girl, is entranced in their own personal actions; the young boy is fixated on counting his bright red berries, the peasant woman faces away from the viewer and watches the infant in her arms who is also engrossed with the red berries. The young girl, however, stares straight out, breaking the boundaries of the canvas and initiating an interaction with the viewer. The young girls direct gaze is probably the reason for the painting’s inclusion in the exhibition in Paris, a town which Rachel Maria Hasbrouck often frequented.
Daughter of Lodewick and Rebecca Hasbrouck, Rachel Maria Hasbrouck was born January 20, 1837, lived until May 23, 1911, was never married and enjoyed a fruitful life engaged in the art world. Until the ripe age of seventy-two, Hasbrouck remained involved in the art world at the communal level. In 1909, at the town of Poughkeepsie’s celebration of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River, Hasbrouck was chosen to commemorate the Hudson Fulton Celebration by sketching the town’s “Court of Honor,” in full view of a crowd of spectators. As a distinguished artist, Rachel even had her own studio above the First National Bank on Main Street (although it is unclear whether it was New Paltz’s, Marbletown’s or Poughkeepsie’s,) and “studied art with the masters in Paris, among others with Harry Thompson, a very celebrated master.” Her Parisian travels inevitably led her to the exploration and fascination with the Realism art movement, as The Dalby Gate, Skane is one of three realist based reproductions by Hasbrouck within the collection at Historic Huguenot Street.
The Realist art movement was a product of the Revolution of 1848, corresponding with the fresh desire for democracy through focusing its subject matter on modern subjects of everyday life. Often depicting manual labor, the peasantry and rural landscapes, Realism sought to illustrate the “gritty detail of the present-day existence of humble people,” which placed the lives of working class into view, and elevated their statuses.
Simultaneously, Paris was also the center of another contemporary art movement: Impressionism. Innovated in Paris in 1874 by the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers etc., Impressionism also sought to depict images of modern life but with vastly different techniques. Through “short broken brushstrokes that barely convey forms, pure unblended colors and an emphasis on the effects of light,” Impressionism revolutionized the depiction of contemporary rural and suburban scenes that realism had portrayed through more traditional methods.
It is curious, then, that Hasbrouck was progressive enough to travel to Paris, the center of the art world which must have been fully engulfed in the fervor of Impressionism, yet still chose to emulate a more traditional art movement. Although Impressionism and Realism contrast immensely in terms of style, both depict similar subject matter that Hasbrouck seemed to be interested in. It is a mystery why Hasbrouck would not also be engulfed in the newly developed Impressionist art movement and why she purposefully turned back to more traditional styles. Is her choice of reproduction a reflection of her traditional roots as an American, or did she just simply admire the aesthetics of Realism? The answer is a mystery.
“Aged Artist at Work.” Poughkeepsie Eagle, August 27, 1909. Accessed February 14, 2017.
Musée d’Orsay. “Modern Young Girls.” Accessed February 17, 2017.
The Hasbrouck Family in America Volumes I & II, Edition 3. “Rachel Maria Hasbrouck.” New Paltz, NY: Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz, NY, 1986.
The Met. “Impressionism: Art and Modernity.” Accessed February 17, 2017.
The Met. “Nineteenth-Century French Realism.” Accessed February, 17, 2017.