Thursday, June 13, 2019

Hermann Dudley Murphy of Boston

Hermann Dudley Murphy (1867-1945) was one of those early 20th century Boston School painters that escaped my attention until recently.

Landscape - c. 1903

In February I was viewing the American art part of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California and came across the painting shown above by Murphy. Unfortunately, my photo and an image found on the Internet fail to show the rather free and nice brushwork in the foreground area. I was impressed enough to collect some more images of his work for this post.

Biographical information seems scarce on the Web. Some information can be found here (click where it offers more information). A much better source is this one that even includes the details that Murphy was six feet six inches tall and taught drawing at Harvard.

Murphy's earlier work was influenced by Whistler, but he also could produce competent "finished" portraits. He also made landscape and cityscape paintings before eventually doing many paintings of flowers in the later part of his career, perhaps due to the influence of this second wife.

For better or worse, Murphy strikes me as having no distinct style, and this might in part be why he seems less known that a number of his Boston contemporaries.


Dutch Nocturne - 1900
Very Whistler-like in its moodiness, its title, and the symbol-signature at the lower right.

Portrait of Henry Ossawa Tanner - 1891-96
An earlier work, a portrait of the painter Tanner.

Mrs. Sarah Skinner - 1905
A traditional kind of portrait. See the second link above mentioning some juicy (in a 1905 Boston Brahmin sense) background on the sitter.

Rio del Paradiso, Venice - 1908
The title seems to be Murphy's invention: I do not know what part of Venice this depicts.

The Beaver Hat - 1920
This is the most "Boston School" painting by Murphy that I found find.

In Taxco - c.1930
A later townscape, but that date is my guess.

Unlike my late wife, I'm not "into" flowers. But if you are, there are plenty of Murphy's flower paintings to be found on the Internet.

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