Hermann Dudley Murphy (1867 - 1945)
New England Winter, c. 1918
Oil on canvas
16 x 12 inches
Signed at lower right: H Dudley Murphy
Original signed, 1918, Carrig-Rohane frame
Murphy was born in Marlboro, Massachusetts. His father was an Irish-born shoe manufacturer, and his mother came from a politically influential New Hampshire family. Murphy's first studies took place during the 1880s, when he enrolled at Boston's Museum School, studying there under the eminent painters Edmund Tarbell and Frank W. Benson.
In 1891, he left for Paris, where he was a pupil at the Academie Julian of Jean-Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant and became enthralled by the work of James McNeill Whistler. Whistler became the major influence on Murphy's art, inspiring his preference for a gentle, refined palette and simplified, tonally unified compositions.
On the completion of his studies in Paris, Murphy settled in Boston, where he became active in a number of Boston artists' associations including the Copley Society, the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, the Guild of Boston Artists, and the Boston Society of Water Color Painters. He exhibited with these groups as well as with the New York Water Color Club. In 1903, Murphy built his home and studio in Winchester, Massachusetts, to which he gave the Celtic name of Carrig-Rohane. From 1931 to 1937, Murphy taught art at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In the spirit of Whistler, shortly after his return from Europe, Murphy began to create frames for his own works that harmonized with the images portrayed. When he moved to Winchester, he was joined in a framing business by Charles Prendergast, who shared his aesthetic. Working from a shop in the basement of Murphy's home, the two artists produced frames inscribed Carrig-Rohane after Murphy's home. The hard-carved gold-leafed frames they created suited the gentle images created by many of the leading artists of the time.
Murphy's art may be divided into three periods. In the first, beginning from the time of his return from Paris until the early 1910s, he focused on portraiture and figural studies, using soft colors creating decorative, aesthetically refined compositions. He also created landscapes, working in Massachusetts in Winchester, Cape Cod, and Marblehead, and in Woodstock, New York and Ogunquit, Maine. These works featured quiet tonal schemes and abstractly arranged compositions reflecting the influence of Whistler.
In the mid-1910s through the 1920s, Murphy's second period, he derived inspiration from several trips to the tropics, especially to Puerto Rico. These works reveal a range of brighter, richer colors and looser, more energetic brushwork.