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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A Master of Duality: Elements of Hope, Beauty, and Seclusion in D. F. Hasbrouck’s Watercolors

By Chloe Baker

DuBois Fenelon Hasbrouck’s success as an aspiring artist is remarkable for the time period he lived in due to his upbringing in the upscale yet rural town of Pine Hill, New York. Far from the aristocratic cities of Europe—the artistic and intellectual center during the Gilded Age, D. F. Hasbrouck learned the art of painting not from  an instructor at The Royal Art Academy in Paris, but rather during stolen hours at father’s farm that should have been devoted to tasks relating to husbandry. 1

D.F. Hasbrouck did not realize his passion for painting until his home town was visited by the famous artist J.G. Brown during the summer, whose presence convinced Hasbrouck to begin painting. As a child, Hasbrouck had always preferred drawing to school work, and it was soon apparent that Hasbrouck possessed great adeptness at producing art. Although his family possessed no supplies, Hasbrouck was given paint from the hired hands who labored on the farm, and he would use wooden boards as a substitute for a canvas. Even with these rudimentary accommodations, Hasbrouck’s innate talent was evident. The teenager soon gained a fan base. This included prominent members of society such as the Reverend Howard Crosby, an advocate for social reform in New York City who often vacationed in the town of Pine Hill. Despite the disapproval of Hasbrouck’s parents with their son’s professional aspirations, Hasbrouck relocated to New York City at the urging of Crosby at the age of nineteen years old. 2

During his time in New York, Hasbrouck was a prolific painter, and would eventually earn the title as the “American Impressionist.” This is a title and position Hasbrouck readily embraced, as evident by a letter he sent to a friend Mr. Rathbun: “America will very soon lead the world in Art—for truth must prevail, and it is only proper that the National Museum should secure the best that our country produces.” 3 This quote is undoubtedly a reaction concerning a subject Hasbrouck regarded with strong opinions. It is the notion that proper art could only be found in Europe, and the only pieces worth investing in should be European in origin. With the aid of two wealth business men, William T. Evans of Montclaire, New Jersey, and James Ellsworth of Chicago, Hasbrouck would go on to challenge such notions. These two gentlemen became sponsors of Hasbrouck’s and begun a collection of American paintings that are on display at various museums today.

After nearly two decades in the city, Hasbrouck relocated with his wife back upstate New York. It was during this period that Hasbrouck reached the height of his career. The fact that his relocation only aided his popularity is understandable, as Hasbrouck’s specialty involved depicting scenes of nature, yet in a manner that veered away from overly sentimental or romantic images that were becoming outdated in style. His paintings depicted images that had been painted many times before such as trees, and the changes in landscapes from season to season.  Often Hasbrouck portrays the land as either a barren winter landscape lush white snow, or a budding fields of green in the springtime. Yet what makes Hasbrouck’s paintings so unique is their ability to transport the viewer to another time period, a time far removed industrialization and progress—to a place where the rugged terrain of nature remains to be the supreme ruler. His depictions of nature ignite in those gazing at them a sense of peace and wonder, yet also a slight feeling of isolation. It is as though by painting trees, he is capturing the joy, fear, and Divinity that is associated with humanity.4 The Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection holds examples of these D.F. Hasbrouck paintings, some of which are on display. The first painting is a watercolor on paper of a farmhouse scene, not dated. The second painting is a watercolor on paper of a rural scene, dating to 1899. These two paintings are not on display, but you can find four D.F. Hasbrouck paintings in the Deyo House.

dfhasbrouck-1

dfhasbrouck-2

1 Walsh, Suzanne M. The Paintings, Watercolors, and Drawings of D.F. Hasbrouck: American Impressionist (1859-1917). Prattsville, New York: Zadock Pratt Museum, 2014. 6. Print.

2 Ibid. 7-8.

3 Ibid. 5.

4 Ibid. 18-19, 21.