HILDEGARDE HAMILTON(1898 - 1970)
A Buffet of Geographical Delights
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great spokesman for individualism and self-reliance, surely must have influenced Hildegarde Hamilton. More than one hundred years ago when most talented women satisfied their artistic leanings painting dainty flowers for the public, Hildegarde Hamilton's inquisitive and adventurous spirit stretched beyond her native pastures, recording images of the world like a travelogue using the eloquent language of art.
Her first trip abroad at the age of ten was to Geneva where she had her first art lesson. When her formal education was completed at the local universities in America, the great Academies of Paris beckoned her. Her cravings for instruction and guidance were completed at Academie Julian and Academie Colarossi.
Her deep longing for knowledge and artistic expression continued throughout her life. Her personal life was always in tune with her own interpretive vision of the nature and essence of beauty itself. At age 32, she married and journeyed with her husband to Paris. He received his Doctorate in romance languages and she had the opportunity to paint the French scene, exhibiting, at the same time at the famous Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, renowned for the artist George Seurat. She bore two children, Madegonde in 1929 and Hamilton in 1930. Travelling together as a family to foreign countries, she documented her reverence for the drama of nature creating a thing of beauty from mundane places and events.
After twelve years, her marriage was dissolved, but it did not dampen nor deter her allure for new lands. She was not alone. She was accompanied by her paint brushes and her romantic fascination for artistic exploration in a constant voyage of discovery.
Her daring nature, eager and curious, led her to visit a Turkish harem in Istanbul and a Mohamedan harem in Tangiers, permission heretofore granted to no other woman.
She painted enticing scenes, all the way from the distant shores of Malta, Turkey, Bulgaria, to Spain, France, Italy, England and North Africa; even Panama, Ecuador, Nassau in the Bahamas and back to local scene, areas around New York, Virginia and Florida where she spent her last days.
Testimony to the recognition of her stature are the frequent exhibits at museums, homes, and professional societies on foreign soil and at home.
Her biography is recorded in the major reference tools: Benezit, Who's Who in American Art, Salons of America, and Mallett. Her exhibits included American College in Sophia Bulgaria, Arts Club, Washington DC, as well as the National Arts Club, NYC, John Herron Art Institute, Indiana, Heidelberg University, Germany, University of Kentucky, Carleton House and Lucerne Hotel in Nassau, Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, Robert College, Constantinople, Turkey - just to mention a few.
Traveling by steamboat, as would have been expected, she accommodated the passengers with an exhibit on board the ocean going vessel.
It should also be noted that along with uncovering her paintings, treasured and kept by the family for over twenty five years after her death, they discovered her birth certificate recording her birth in Syracuse, New York - September 11, 1898, a fact long withheld.
Her paintings are not a social commentary of the world, but rather a sense of personal vision of ubiquitous landmarks executed with poetic realism in exuberant, harmonious colors.
Mildred Thaler Cohen is the director of the Marbella Gallery Inc., New York City, NY
ŠThe Fine Arts Trader 2009