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Hermann Dudley Murphy
Iris

1929

$25,000

About

Hermann Dudley Murphy (1867–1945) Iris, 1929 Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in. Signed lower right: H. Dudley Murphy Signed, titled and dated on verso: H. Dudley Murphy / Iris / 1929 The painting retains its original frame. Provenance: private collection, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania Hermann Dudley Murphy was born in Marlboro, Massachusetts in 1867. After studying at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School in 1886 with Otto Grundmann and Joseph DeCamp, he worked as a mapmaker for the Nicaraguan Canal Survey. The project, which laid the groundwork to build a canal across Central America, was ultimately discarded by Theodore Roosevelt in favor of the Panama Canal. In the late 1880s and early 1890s, Murphy was an illustrator for magazines such as Harper’s and Scribner’s, but he decided to devote himself to painting in 1891, studying for the next five years at the Académie Julian in Paris with Jean-Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant. While in Paris, Murphy was introduced to and influenced by the works of James McNeill Whistler and the Aesthetic Movement. His works during this time focused on portraiture and figural studies, and embodied the refined palette and abstract tonality of Whistler. Murphy also acquired Whistler’s taste for designing frames that complemented his paintings, and after he returned to the United States, he partnered with Charles Prendergast in a highly successful frame business. Settling in Boston, Murphy painted elegant portraits, poetic landscapes, and exquisite still lifes in an Impressionist style. He also devoted time to teaching, first holding classes on Cape Cod in 1899, and then taking a position at Harvard, where he continued to teach for 36 years. The 1920s and 1930s marked the most successful period of Murphy’s career, when he concentrated on producing still lifes. Iris exemplifies his floral still lifes that combine realism and ideal beauty. He depicts the flowers in the Impressionist style, set in a small green pot with the white and purple of the irises standing out against the muted background and gray table. A small incense burner and an Eastern figurine flank the irises and there is a bracelet in the left foreground, with beads of green, black, white and red. Murphy incorporated these type of Eastern objects, such as porcelains and antiques, in many of his still-life paintings. Murphy’s paintings can be found in the National Academy of Design, New York, New York; New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Illinois; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Missouri; Springville Museum of Art, Springville, Utah; and The Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas.

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