Hibbard’s name became synonymous with paintings of snow, yet his stays in Vermont usually lasted until late April, allowing him the opportunity to capture the transition between seasons as the slumbering trees and valleys emerged from the frost of winter. Admired for their subtle tones and atmospheric quality, scenes like Spring Birches, Vermont were generally created during the artist’s first few years in Vermont and rendered with the broken-color technique that he had acquired from Metcalf and the Impressionists. This painting also demonstrates his strength for composition and for interpreting sunlight on the gentle sloping meadow and elegant birch trees.
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Aldro Hibbard, like his namesake, 16th century Italian artist-naturalist Ulysses Aldrovandi, found enough in nature for a lifetime of contemplation and study. Trained at the Boston Museum School, Hibbard carried forth the tenets of traditional academic art into the 20th century. After his return to Boston in 1914 from a whirlwind tour of Europe, Hibbard painted several fine winter landscapes, including Winter Days, which was later purchased by the Museum of Fine Arts in 1920. He exhibited widely in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, and launched himself in the Boston art world with a one-man exhibition at the Boston Art Club in 1916. Three years later, a show of his winter scenes at the Guild of Boston Artists received glowing reviews.
Hibbard had long been interested in snow-covered landscapes and, at the recommendation of fellow Boston artist and Fenway Studios resident William J. Kaula, he first traveled to Vermont in 1915 and was immediately taken with the mountains, valleys, and charming residents of the region. He submitted one of his earliest winter paintings, February Thaw, to the National Academy in 1916, and acknowledged a debt to the winter landscapes of Willard Metcalf, specifically the technique of creating a veil of delicately toned colors, one placed next to another, to describe light and shadow on snow. In his early canvases, Hibbard practiced a similar technique that produced a delicate pointillist feeling, which he called “broken color.” Equally important was Metcalf’s practice of painting outside in the middle of winter; Hibbard’s snow scenes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and his many landscapes of the winters that he experienced in Vermont attest to his love for painting in harsh conditions. After his initial 1915 visit, Hibbard returned to Vermont every winter, eventually settling into a home near East Jamaica with his wife Winifred, whom he married in 1923, and their two children. He continued to explore the state in search of inspiration, from the streams, forests and mountains of southern Vermont’s West River Valley to the secluded hamlets near the Canadian border.
Private collection, Gloucester, Massachusetts, until 1987
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. 28563, January 1987
To private collection, Owings Mills, Maryland, March 1987 to present
Previous Vose Galleries label, inventory no. 28563