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Artist Biography

George Henry Hall was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. His family moved to Boston by 1829. Without any formal art instruction, Hall began painting around 1842, and in 1846 he was listed as an artist in the Boston street directory. In 1849 he traveled with friend and fellow painter Eastman Johnson to Dusseldorf, Germany where he attended the Royal Academy. The following year, Hall relocated to Paris where he remained until 1852. Upon his return to the United States, Hall settled in New York City, but often visited Europe and North Africa throughout his life.

Best known for his still lifes, Hall initially began his career as a painter of genre or narrative scenes. Among his early works were picturesque views derived from his exotic travels. He continued to paint genre subjects throughout his career, but around 1857, Hall turned to painting detailed and vividly colored still lifes. William H. Gerdts notes that: “In his own time, George Hall was the best-known specialist of still life in the mid-nineteenth century, certainly better respected and noticed more often than either [Severin] Roesen or [John F.] Francis.” Gerdts also points out that Hall is the only still-life specialist written about in Henry T. Tuckerman’s famous Book of the Artists, published in 1867. In 1860, The Cosmopolitan Art Journal published an article titled “The Dollars and Cents of Art,” and used Hall’s work as an example of the prices still-life artists could ask for their work. Written only three years after Hall began painting still lifes, the article attests to his rapid success and popularity in his newly chosen specialty. That same year, Hall sold nearly one hundred fifty paintings, enabling him to live and paint in Spain for several years.

Hall was elected Associate to the National Academy of Design in 1853, and became an Academician in 1868. He exhibited in London at the British Institute, Royal Academy, Suffolk Street Gallery, and in the United States at the National Academy of Design, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Brooklyn Art Association, Boston Art Club, and the Art Institute of Chicago. His works are housed in renowned public collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; and the Museum of the Fine Arts, Boston.

References:

Peter Hastings Falk, Who Was Who in American Art: 1564-1975. Madison, Conn.: Soundview Press, 1999; William H. Gerdts, Painters of the Humble Truth: Masterpieces of American Still Life: 1801-1939. Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press, 1981, pp. 93-97.