William Morris Hunt Gallery
Hunt's father's family were among Vermont's founders and largest landowners; his mother's a family of wealth and prominence in Connecticut. Hunt attended Harvard but withdrew in his junior year.
Following the untimely death of his Congressman father from cholera, Hunt's mother Jane took him and his brothers to Switzerland, the South of France and to Rome, where Hunt studied with Couture in Paris and then came under the influence of Jean-François Millet, from whom he learned the principles of the Barbizon school. The Hunt family remained in Europe for a dozen years.
Afterwards, leaving Paris, he painted and established art schools at Newport, Rhode Island, where he had relatives, Brattleboro, Vermont, Faial Island in the Azores, where he had family connections and finally at Boston, where he painted, taught art and became a popular portrait painter.
The companionship of Millet had a lasting influence on Hunt's character and style, and his work grew in strength, in beauty and in seriousness. He was among the biggest proponents of the Barbizon school in America, and he more than any other turned the rising generation of American painters towards Paris.
On his return in 1855 he painted some of his most handsome canvases, all reminiscent of his life in France and of Millet's influence. Such are The Belated Kid, Girl at the Fountain, Hurdy-Gurdy Boy, and others ?C but the public called for portraits, and it became the fashion to sit for Hunt; among his best paintings of this genre are those of William M. Evarts, Mrs Charles Francis Adams, the Rev. James Freeman Clarke, William H. Gardner, Chief Justice Shaw and Judge Horace Gray.
Sadly, many of Hunt's paintings and sketches, together with five large Millets and other art treasures collected by him in Europe, were destroyed in the Great Boston Fire of 1872.
Portrait of Charles Sumner
Medium Oil on canvas