George Henry Durrie (1820-1863)
Property from the Estate of Richard J. Schwartz
George Henry Durrie (1820-1863)

To Hartford--IX Miles

George Henry Durrie (1820-1863)
To Hartford--IX Miles
signed and dated 'G.H. Durrie/1854' (lower right)--inscribed with title (on a sign on the tree)
oil on canvas
26 ¼ x 36 in. (66.7 x 91.4 cm.)
Painted in 1854.
Vose Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts.
Mr. Arthur D. Weekes, Jr., Oyster Bay, New York.
Mrs. Katharine M.A. Sands, Oyster Bay, New York, wife of the above, by descent.
Estate of the above.
Doyle, New York, 4 December 1991, lot 31, sold by the above.
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Acquired by the late owner from the above, 1991.
M. Young Hutson, George Henry Durrie (1820-1863), American Winter Landscapist: Renowned Through Currier and Ives, Santa Barbara, California, 1977, p. 221, no. 155.

Lot Essay

Born in New Haven in 1820, George Henry Durrie would be inspired by his hometown area for nearly his entire life. As was common for the leading artists of the era, Durrie initially trained as a portrait painter, plying his trade throughout rural Connecticut. These early efforts provided a steady income, but by the late 1840s, the artist expanded his horizons to include those New England landscapes that might have first appeared only as a portrait background. In addition to painting local landmarks, he quickly established a name for himself with scenes of rural life, including those of schoolhouses, country inns and barnyards. Durrie also developed a particular affinity for winter scenes, such as To Hartford--IX Miles, for which he attracted broad attention and was rewarded with both commercial and critical success.

Martha Young Hutson writes, “Between 1853 and 1857, Durrie was evolving a favorite subject of the isolated country farmhouse or inn located on a snow-covered road with one or two farmers and/or sleigh approaching or leaving. The road leads the eye diagonally into the picture space. The main building in the mid-ground is flanked by trees, and beyond it lies a distant, hilly background. Sometimes the distant hill is recognizable as New Haven’s East or West Rocks. Frequently the profile of the Mount Carmel range (sometimes called the Sleeping Giant) appears, these hills are north of New Haven. Drawing his scenes from the countryside around his home, Durrie probably combined various locations and only occasionally painted an actual homestead.” (George Henry Durrie (1820-1863), American Winter Landscapist: Renowned Through Currier and Ives, Santa Barbara, California, 1977, p. 90)

As seen in the present work, as well as in the similar Seven Miles to Farmington (1855, Private Collection), this emphasis on story-telling over accurate representation of a specific place contributes to the accessibility of Durrie’s work, and eventually resulted in the reproduction of many of his paintings by the lithographic firm Currier & Ives. In essence, works such as To Hartford--IX Miles serve as withdrawn views of those specific scenes rendered by the best of the American Genre painters, while also featuring the pensive beauty of early American landscape painting. Durrie's most accomplished works, including To Hartford--IX Miles, are not only defined by their awareness of compositional design and detail, and attention to atmospheric effect, but equally by their distinctly American subjects and unique, often jovial, mood.

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