Oil on canvas, 7.75 x 13.75 inches/Signed lower left
Hart was born in Paisley, Scotland, but circa 1830 he immigrated with his family to Albany, New York. His younger brother James McDougal Hart and his sister Julie Hart Beers Kempson also went on to become artists in their own right. After he had served an apprenticeship painting decorative panels for Albany coach makers Eaton and Gilbert, Hart moved onto painting portraits, opening his first studio in his father’s woodshed. Over his career he would maintain studios in Albany, New York City, Brooklyn, and finally Mount Vernon, NY. In 1842 Hart was in Michigan seeking portraiture commissions; however, he returned to Albany in 1845 in poor health. Notwithstanding, he concentrated on his art, which by this time, was landscape painting. His efforts paid off, for in 1849 an Albany patron financed his travel to Scotland to study. Hart returned to Albany in 1852 with health much improved and in 1853 moved to New York City, where he concentrated on landscape painting in the manner of the Hudson River School. He is known for his tranquil landscapes that often included cows, a favorite subject for Victorian American collectors. Post-Civil War New York City was teeming with Nouveau Riche who fancied themselves as being among the “cultured elite”. They found Hart’s paintings of rural landscapes appealing and, as bibliophile and author, Sinclair Hamilton observed, both Hart brothers “painted in a language intelligible for the artistically illiterate”. A perfect and lucrative match. Later, he and his brother James opened studios in Keene Valley, New York, “Home of the High Peaks”—the Adirondacks Mountains. Throughout the late 1850s and 1870s, Hart made trips to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Hart was the founder of the American Water Color Society in 1865 and was the first president of the Brooklyn Academy of Design where he was also an instructor. Hart Exhibited at National Academy of Design, NY (1848, 1853–65, 1867–71, 1874–89, 1891–94); Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (1854–59, 1862, 1866–1868); Brooklyn Art Association, Brooklyn, NY (1861–64, 1866–78, 1882–1883); and the Boston Athenaeum.