Joseph Henry Hatfield
Piecing together sketchy information about an artist is fun, occasionally frustrating, and invites you almost to project what you think the artist’s life was like. For Joseph Henry Hatfield, it seems like a happy beginning: a very talented artist with exhibition successes during the 1880s, then departure for study in Paris. From the relatively few examples of his work I’ve seen from this early period, he was extraordinarily gifted, especially with images of children at play. This example of the little girl with a golden halo, gazing at a painting on an easel, holding a feather duster, totally captured my fascination. I’ve seen a few other 1880s and early 1890s pieces of little girls reading or playing with dolls that are superb. Information on Hatfield’s life gets sketchy after this, indicating that he returned to the United States years later, possibly as a result of World War I, and instead of returning to the vibrant Boston art scene, settled in the South Shore of Massachusetts in Canton, for the remainder of his life. It seems like the promise of his youth was not realized in his later years, but that is just my interpretation.