Lot 45
  • 45

GEORGE HENRY DURRIE | Hunter in Winter Wood

300,000 - 500,000 USD
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  • George Henry Durrie
  • Hunter in Winter Wood
  • signed G.H. Durrie and dated 1860 (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 36 by 54 inches
  • (91.4 by 137.2 cm)


Mrs. W. Murray Crane, New York
Gift to the present owner from the above, 1947


Santa Barbara, California, Santa Barbara Museum of Art; San Diego, California, Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego; Fort Worth, Texas, Amon Carter Museum of Western Art; New Haven, Connecticut, New Haven Colony Historical Society, George Henry Durrie (1820-1863): American Winter Landscapist: Renowned Through Currier and Ives, December 1977-July 1978, no. 196, pp. 94, 95, 117, 147, 223, pp. 94, 117, 147, 223, illustrated fig. 113, p. 111
Shreveport, Louisiana, R.W. Norton Art Gallery, A Winter Wonderland, December 1979


James Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers, New York, 1964, cover illustration
"American Paintings in the Collection of the Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts," The Magazine Antiques, November 1982, p. 1056, illustrated


The canvas is lined. Under UV: there appear to be some scattered spots of inpainting in the sky primarily at the center, along two repaired tears in the lower right foreground each line 5-6 inches long, a few other scattered spots in the snow in foreground, and to address frame abrasion along the left edge.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

George Henry Durrie was born in New Haven, Connecticut, a small, pastoral community that would serve as his greatest source of inspiration throughout his career. Durrie initially supported himself as a portrait painter, executing commissions with growing sophistication until he became recognized as one of the region’s most skilled practitioners of the genre. Despite this success, Durrie gradually turned his attention away from portraiture to the increasingly popular field of landscape painting. His work captured the particular qualities of the local landscape in addition to depicting the daily way of life of his friends and neighbors. As a result, Durrie’s body of work is unique within the context of 19th century American art, standing as a compelling synthesis of landscape and genre painting. According to Martha Hutson, “Hunter in Winter Wood, dated 1860, is painted on Durrie’s largest canvas, 36 by 54 inches. Durrie’s pride in this picture is seen immediately in his unusually conspicuous signature… This canvas and an equally large picture of the same year, Wood for Winter, are the nearest Durrie is known to have approached in winter scenes the panoramic views of the Hudson River School. These paintings are his answer to the work of Cropsey and Kensett, and Church’s Heart of the Andes (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). They meet the basic requirements of these artists’ style. The view is wide, the subject noble, the canvas large and the technique thin with a high technical polish. Where Durrie stopped short of Durand’s and Church’s technique is in the verisimilitude of detail. As in his earlier landscapes, Durrie retained the brushwork and color touch of Thomas Cole to denote detail of foliage, tree and rock. Durrie’s paintings stand apart from the mainstream of American landscape painting at the mid-century mark not only in their choice of season but in their personal idiosyncrasies of style" (George Henry Durrie (1820-1863): American Winter Landscapist: Renowned Through Currier and Ives, Laguna Beach, California, 1977, pp. 94-95).

Hutson continues, “The figures in Hunter in Winter Wood are, like the couple in Gathering Wood, incidental to the dominant theme of forest trees. The descriptive adjective of 'prosaic,' often attached to Durrie’s farmyards and not always accurate, does not apply here. Dreamy and poetic better describe the sunlit trees by the road. The patterning and stretching of the multiple branches and trunks is reminiscent of dancers. Durrie had previously experimented with the contrast of colors between trees and does so here with stunning obviousness. One tree is composed of salmon and brown tones and its neighbor cream, gray and turquoise. These colors are also subtly blended into the snow. The shadows on the snow are pink and mauve. Durrie had previously used pink in the snow shadows, but it was not until the late paintings that he did so predominantly. The snow is further enlivened by the reds and rusts of dead grass and bushes whose inclusion has been characteristic of his winter scenes.” (Ibid.).