|American Masterpieces from Dryads Green Gallery
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Cleaning the Catch Gloucester, Oil on Artist Board, 10 1/2 x 13 3/4, Signed
Curator's Comments: Hildebrandt was a painter's painter, and it is fitting that his most
famous portrait (1947), which hangs in the Smithsonian, is of the tonalist Eliot Clark, head of the
National Academy and son of American painter Walter Clark. Another Pennsylvanian,
Hildebrandt studied in France at the Academie Julian under Benjamin Constant and J. P.
Laurens. In New York, he worked at the National Academy, where his self-portrait still hangs.
Sargent is a major influence on his portraiture, particularly in the figure-background
relationship, but Hildebrandt preferred the outdoor portrait. His occasional paintings frequently
show fisherman at work, and an early work on this theme won an American Watercolor Society
prize. Our painting of Gloucester Fisherman is a small jeu d'esprit (more colorful than a larger
work similarly titled, and we think its impressionist study is perfect for the moment the painting
comes alive in the light, with the pink silver sheen of the catch glowing amid grey overtones. This
is a casual work thrown off by a master with perfect skill that continues to capture our eye. We
like the sketch with its silvery shine and greying skies much more than the larger work it bred.
The more we look at this, the more impressed we are with its silve/grey/white contrasts--THIS IS
A REAL GEM BY A MASTER AT A BARGAIN PRICE.
Inthe larger version of Cleaning the Catch
Hildebrandt renders a more static construct.
Mending the Nets brought $8,000 in
2006--here too the posture grouping is formal.
HILDEBRANDT'S SKETCH IS A SILVERY SPECIAL