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Maker(s):Field, Erastus Salisbury
Culture:American (1805-1900)
Title:painting: The Buffalo Hunt
Date Made:ca. 1870
Materials:oil, canvas, wood
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Sunderland?
Measurements:framed: 30 in x 38 in; 76.2 cm x 96.52 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2004.43
Credit Line:Hall and Kate Peterson Fund for Paintings, Prints, Drawings and Photographs
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Framed oil painting, "The Buffalo Hunt," painted by Erastus Salisbury Field (1805-1900). The painting probably descended in the Hubbard family to Parker Dole Hubbard (1919-1994) whose wife, Louise Acuff Hubbard, sold the painting to Historic Deerfield. Parker Dole Hubbard was the son of George Caleb Hubbard (b.1878) and Florence Graves Hubbard, grandson of Parker Dole Hubbard (1825-1895) and Elizabeth Newton Hubbard (1842-1915), great-grandson of Ashley Hubbard (1792-1861) and Betsey Dole Hubbard (1794-1862), and great-great-grandson of Caleb Hubbard (1754-1850) and Lucretia Ashley Hubbard (1792-1853) of the Hubbard Tavern in the Plumtree section of Sunderland. Born in Leverett, Mass., Field worked mainly painting the middle-class citizens of rural New England. Though he studied painting with Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872) in New York for 3 months from Dec. 1824 to Feb. 1825, Field continued to paint in a country style. His portraits, with their flat compositions and blunt directness, were popular in rural towns and small cities along the Connecticut River Valley, from Greenfield and Northampton in the north to Hartford and New Haven in the south. His rapid style conveyed details of clothing and facial expressions with minimum brushwork; Field could complete a full portrait of an adult sitter in a day's time at a cost of $5, and created over 1500 paintings over his career. Although each portrait captures a distinct personality, his portraits share stiffly formal characteristics such as refined silk dresses, woolen coats, and mahogany furniture, along with other symbols of fashion, status, education, and civic-mindedness. The early portraits often depict their subjects with triangular-shaped shoulders and elf-like ears. The nephew of Lucretia Ashley Hubbard and Caleb Hubbard, Field stayed with the Hubbard family in Plumtrees from 1836, off and on during his career, and painted 11 members of the family. HD's collection of Hubbard family portraits by Field include: Caleb Hubbard (HD 89.044) and his wife, Lucretia Ashley Hubbard (HD 89.045); their son, Ashley Hubbard (HD 89.010) and two of his wife, Betsy Dole Hubbard (HD 89.010 and 89.046); and children, Israel Wales Hubbard (HD 2005.1), Nancy Henderson Hubbard (HD 2005.2), Parker Dole Hubbard (2005.21), Stephen Ashley Hubbard (HD 91.002), and Elizabeth Peck Hubbard (HD 91.002). After decades as an itinerant portrait painter, Field met the new competition from photography (introduced by his former teacher, Morse) by using the technology to provide his portraits with sharper realism; he later became interested in romantic, imaginative landscapes that illustrate religious allegories, and political and historical narratives, the best-known being his "Historical Monument of the American Republic" in the Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Mass. For this painting, Field drew on images, widely available in the press, of one of the most popular themes of western life, the buffalo hunt. Although Anglo tourists, frontiersmen and Natvie American alike hunted buffalo on horseback and using modern firearms, Field depicted Native American men in non-western dress, two on white horses and three on brown horses, attacking a buffalo herd with bows and arrows, across an arid landscape with a butte rising in the background. Field's scene conjures a "pure" American west as it might have appeared before the arrival of the Europeans.

Native American

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