Untitled Document

Artist Biography

 Best known for his Impressionist images of Holland, George Hitchcock began his career as a lawyer. Originally from Providence, Rhode Island, he graduated from Brown University and Harvard Law School. In 1879, after practicing law for five years, Hitchcock left his law firm and traveled to Europe to pursue his true passion, which was painting. He first studied in London with Sutter Palmer, then at the Académie Julian in Paris under Boulanger and Lefebvre, and later in Dusseldorf. In 1881, he moved to Egmond, a small cluster of towns on the northwest coast of Holland. His initial summers in Holland were spent in The Hague studying under landscape and watercolor specialist Hendrik Mesdag. Hitchcock remained in Europe for the rest of his life and traveled frequently. He usually spent his winters in Paris and summers and springs in Egmond where he had a house and later lived on his houseboat The Tulip.

Hitchcock’s standing in the international art community was secured when his painting Tulip Culture (unlocated) garnered the praise of French academic master Jean-Léon Gérôme, who claimed it to be the best American painting shown at the Paris Salon in 1885. Around that time, Hitchcock also exhibited paintings of contemporary peasants wearing traditional dress in the guise of religious figures. Paintings such as Annunciation, exhibited at the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris, depicted a Dutch peasant girl as the Virgin Mary standing in a field of white lilies symbolic of the purity of archangel Gabriel’s message. Art critic Theodore Child claimed it to be “one of the most refined and original pictures in the American section.”

Around 1895, Hitchcock’s painting style became more impressionistic and he used such a strong sense of natural light that he became known as the “painter of sunlight.” He also underwent a slight shift in subject matter; although he continued to paint flowers and Dutch peasant girls, he ceased painting them as religious subjects. From this period hail images such as Dutch Bride (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and The Artist’s House, Holland. The painting Dutch Bride shows a peasant girl standing among rows of tulips in a landscape similar to the one in our painting. Both paintings display the artist’s new concern with the pattern and color of light and shadow, and both depict brightly colored tulip rows set against a dark wooded tree line. Compared to his earlier works, these compositions appear more two-dimensional, with looser brushwork and closed, limited perspectives. 

During the nearly twenty years he spent in Egmond, Hitchcock cherished the rural landscape and enjoyed his escape from modern industrialized urban life. Along with American artist Gari Melchers, Hitchcock founded an art colony in Egmond, which like Giverny and Pont-Aven in France, attracted American and European artists during summer months. Although an ex-patriot, Hitchcock’s ties to the Untied States remained strong throughout his career, so much so that in 1909 he was awarded Associate membership to the National Academy of Design. He frequently exhibited in America and Europe at prestigious venues, including the Boston Art Club, National Academy of Design, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Paris Salon, American Art Association, Paris Exposition, 1889 (gold medal), Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 (medal), and in Dresden, Vienna, and Munich. He was knighted the high honor, Order of the Golden Fleece under Emperor Franz Josef. Hitchcock was also a member of the Munich Secession and the Paris Society of American Painters. His works are housed in important public collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Brooklyn Museum.