James McDougal Hart (1828-1901)

  • James McDougal Hart (1828 -1901)
  • Misty Morning, Lake Placid, 1860
  • Oil on canvas
  • 6 ¼ x 10 ½ inches
  • Signed and dated 1860, lower left

Prominent amongst the second generation of Hudson River School painters, James McDougal Hart is known for his refined and intricately crafted pastoral scenes, often featuring grazing cattle. Born in Kilmarnock, Scotland in 1828, Hart immigrated with his family to Albany, New York when he was just two years old. His older brother, William Hart (1823‒1894), and younger sister, Julie Hart Beers (1835‒1913), also went on to become accomplished landscape painters. James’ future wife, Marie Theresa Gorsuch, was a still life painter, and their three children, Robert Gorsuch Hart, Letitia Bonnet Hart, and Mary Theresa Hart, all grew up to be painters as well.

James Hart began his career, as had William, in a sign and carriage painter’s shop. Unlike his brother, James returned to Europe at the age of twenty-two to receive academic training. He studied briefly in Munich, and for three years with Johann Wilhelm Schirmer (1807‒1863) at the Düsseldorf Academy, a center of realist pedagogy that was equally influential for fellow Hudson River School painters, Worthington Whittredge (1820‒1910), Eastman Johnson (1824‒1905), Albert Bierstadt (1830‒1902), and William Stanley Haseltine (1835‒1900).

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James McDougal Hart Misty Morning, Lake Placid, 1860
James McDougal Hart Misty Morning, Lake Placid, 1860 unframed