Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Aldro Hibbard - The Greatest Painter of Snow

Considered the 'greatest American painter of snow', New England artist Aldro Hibbard in part created a style of painting that has come to be known as the 'Rockport School' (aka 'Gloucester' or 'Cape Ann' style). Other prominant artists of this style and place include Frederick Mulhaupt, Anthony Thieme, Emile Gruppe, William Lester Stevens, Paul Strisik, Tom Nicholas and Roger W. Curtis.

Hibbard was a post-impressionist landscape artist who painted outdoors on site, or, 'en plein air.'  His best known works are winter scenes in Vermont and summer scenes in the Rockport and Gloucester area of Massachusetts known as Cape Ann. Today his large-scale paintings fetch $30,000-$90,000 at auction.

Hibbard was born in Falmouth, MA in 1886 but lived most of his life in Rockport until his death in 1972. Early he studied at MassArt, and with Frank Benson and Edmund Tarbell. He received an endowment from the MFA for study abroad, and later taught painting at BU and was a founding member of the Rockport Art Association.

Aldro T. Hibbard's best-known and most revered works depict rural Vermont winter landscapes. These paintings not only create a comfortable beauty and capture the specific detail of place, but moreover show a master's command of the subtle nuances of light upon the form of snow. In these paintings you will find snow that is green and snow that is yellow, buildings that are vermillion and moutains that are purple and Prussian blue. Bare maples are squiggled in from their bases and broadly stroked in half-tones at their bud line then negative painted full of 'sky-holes.' Although these techniques borrow from other impressionistic ideas, they truly became conventions of the Rockport School. Observe paintings of those artists mentioned above and you will see a continuity. This is a genuine style of American painting that is about to have a renaissance.

In a recent Antiques Roadshow, Boston Mayor Tom Menino gets schooled on A. T. Hibbard.