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Hildegarde Hamilton
galleries of Debbie Hughes---biography-Debbie Hughes------published work------new------contact------Page 2 Hildegarde------graphic design

Hildegarde Hamilton

copyright 2005 Debbie Hughes

Growing up, I remember with fondness the visits to Hildegarde's house in Fort Lauderdale. She lived in a small house in front of a canal with a huge banyan tree in the front yard. The house always smelled of oil paint and her paintings were stacked up everywhere, on the mantel, on the furniture, walls - all the way to the ceiling, occupying every available space. The minute we'd arrived she would occupy us with discourse and stories. During the day we'd enjoy the beaches with her, at night the restaurants that often had her paintings lining their walls as well. My grandmother had a rich and colorful story behind most every painting she did - not that

unusual since she travelled the globe painting landscapes her entire adult life. As children, my mom and uncle accompanied her on these journeys, largely due to the fact that they had no choice in the matter, it seems that Hildegarde's painting always came first. However, this page is not put up to judge Hildegarde but to explain a bit about her unique life and work.

Hopefully, I can get most of the history of Hildegarde correct because there are quite a few gaps, however, the more info I come across the more I will add to this page. I'd like to mention also that I have included the names of mainly the more significant exhibits Hildegarde had, otherwise this bio would be too lengthy. Many thanks to all those involved (Manuel E. Flores, John Nettles, my uncle Hume Hamilton, and his dear friend and mine as well: Suzann Kruthaupt) with the privately compiled 1978 Gables Art Gallery Chronology which I have used as a basis for my research along with piles of papers, letters and photos that I have gone through. Also, much heartfelt thanks to my mom, Meldegonde Giles for all of her memories and input. At the end of this page I have also listed quite a few notable collectors who own Hildegarde's paintings as well as a list of "Firsts" for a woman artist of her time. Hope you enjoy this piece of the past.


Hildegarde Hume Hamilton was born Sept. 11, 1898 at the House of the Good Shepherd, Syracuse, New York - daughter to Maude Hume Hamilton and Dr. James Henry Hamilton.
Dr. James Henry Hamilton taught Economics, Sociology and Political Economics at Syracuse University from 1896 to 1903. He also lived and worked at The University Settlement in N.Y. He and Maude married in 1890 and resided in Syracuse, NY. The only information that I have on Maude Hume at this time is that she was from Clinton, NY.

In 1901 Hildegarde's mother Maude drowns - an apparent suicide, still no details as to what the circumstances were. Hildegarde lived with her father til 1904, then was placed in the home of her Aunt and Uncle Mr. & Mrs. Lindsey Best in Plainfield, New Jersey. There she attended school until the 5th Grade. In 1908, her father had already taken Hildegarde to Geneva and Florence where she decided she really wanted to be a painter. Her father made the decision to take her back abroad in 1909 where she received Art training in Geneva, Florence and Berlin under various tutors for 3 years. She returned to New Jersey to finish High School and also during this period attended the Art Students League in New York and studied with the Summer Landscape School in Woodstock. In 1921 she received her B.A. from The University of Arizona.

From 1921 to 1926 Hildegarde returned to Europe to study at these schools:

Academie Julian, Academi Colarossi, and the Academie de la Grand Chaumiere, all in Paris.

L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris & Toulouse

Acadamia de Bellas Artes, Sevilla, Spain

Harvey and Proctor School of Modern Landscape Painting, Newlyn, Cornwall, England

She returned to the U.S. and studied briefly at:

John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana

Cincinatti Art Academy, Cincinnati, Ohio

and under Anthony Thieme, Rockport, MA


Sometime in her trip to France before 1926, Hildegarde met Captain Lucien Hobart Ryland aboard a ship on it's way to Grenoble, France. A gentleman of an old Virginia family, Hobart who had fought in World War I was at this point in time on his way to study at the University of Grenoble. Later he would become a professor of Romance Languages at the Virginia Military Institute. Hildegarde was going to Grenoble to study and paint. They spent time together there and met up with Hildegarde's father in Paris, her father was so impressed with him that he gave his consent for marriage. A month later Hobart proposed and upon returning to the states in 1926 they were married at The University Settlement in New York, where Hildegard's father had lived and worked for so many years. By the first winter after her marriage Hildegarde had sold 300 landscapes during that one year span.
In 1927 Hildegarde had exhibited work in Virginia, Indiana, Washington D.C.(The Women's Welfare Conference), Paris (The Exhibition of Modern Artists), Grenoble and Nice (The First Salon of Women Painters) and on the Steamship Hamburg on it's voyage across the Atlantic. She reportedly exhibited paintings on the First, Second and Third Class levels of the ship so that everyone on board could view them ( she would later continue this type of exhibiting - always on the way home from Europe if she were granted permission from the Captain). Upon her return from Europe, Hildegarde made her debut in New York at Ainslie Galleries, 677 Fifth Ave. with a one-man show. She exhibited 33 French Alpine scenes. She met with much success and sold quite a few pieces. This same year she went on to have many more exhibits in New York at various Galleries, Hotels, Libraries and at the University Settlement. In 1928, Hildegarde has a one man show at the Women's National Party Headquarters on First Street. Vice President Charles Gates Dawes (an old friend of the family) gives Hildegarde much encouragement and purchases one of her paintings.
June 1928, Hildegarde and Hobart sail for France, she will paint and exhibit in many Continental Art Societies, he obtains a Doctorate in the Romance Languages at the Sorbonne in Paris.

October 22 - November 2, 1928 - Hildegarde has a one man show at the leading gallery in France - Galerie Bernheim Jeune in Paris. This gallery included much of the Estate of the late Georges Pierre Seurat. Hildegarde's exhibit consisted of 47 paintings of landscapes and cities in Switzerland, Franche-Comte, Paris, Grenoble, the Chateau of Chillon, Mont Blanc and a major canvas - a view of the ruins that survive above Sassenage. The exhibit was viewed by the various Embassies, American Women's Club, the Beaux Arts, journalist reporters, members of the Legion of Honor - all of whom spoke in praise of the exhibit. It was reviewed by The New York Herald, Paris Art Notes by Georges Bal, the magazine: Intransieance - Les Arts and the Magazine: Les Artiste D' Aujourd' Hui.

In 1929 Hildegarde was the First American Woman to exhibit at Philip Dillon's Club: "L'Artistique" at Provence. She also exhibited at the Fortieth Salon of the Societe des Artistes Independants in Paris, the Galerie Alban, Monte Carlo and the Society of Modern Artists, Paris.

In this year, Hildegarde gave birth to her first child: Meldagonde in Marseille, France.

Again on her return home from Europe, Hildegarde exhibits her paintings aboard a ship, this time on the S.S. Vulcania. She arrives in New York in August with her new baby, her husband, 4 Siamese cats and 300 paintings packed in the automobile they had used in Europe.

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