Charles Gruppe was born in Picton, Ontario and later moved to Rochester, New York. He had no formal training as an artist when he was young, but nurtured his innate talent through sign making. At the age of 21 he went to Europe, where he stopped his travels in Holland and remained there for twenty years. In the Netherlands he painted portraits, interiors, farms, boats, fisherman and coastal waterways. He was very taken by the landscape of the Netherlands and he is primarily known for his depictions of this landscape. With subtle draftsmanship, his work became so identified with the Dutch School of painting that he was elected to the exclusive Pulchre Studio, a highly unique honor for an American.
Charles Paul Gruppe was a first rate Tonalist painter who is notable for his dark, Dutch inspired palette as well as his soft brushwork. He painted his landscapes in the Barbizon style, as in Hilltop Farm, a wonderful example of this style, with its dark color palette and loose, quick brushwork. The influence of the School of Munich where Gruppe worked alongside such artists as Frank Duveneck, William Merritt Chase, and John Henry Twachtman may be seen in the silvery gray skies depicted in Hilltop Farm. There is additionally an extraordinary harmony of grey, green, earth-brown and silver tones that resonate throughout the picture. Gruppe continued this style of painting when he moved to the Netherlands where his paintings were highly desirable at the time of his life and where he became one of the country's leading artists. His subtle colorations and careful draftsmanship became closely identified with the Dutch School of painting. His pictures were collected by members of the Dutch Royal Family who were his patrons. He won numerous awards and medals including Rouen, an award in 1902 at the American Art Society, two gold medals in Paris, an award at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition, and the Tuthill prize in 1917. Upon his return to New York at the turn of the 20th century, Gruppe popularized the Dutch tradition of painting among young artists and collectors of note.
Private Collection, Greenwich, CT
Rochester Art Club, 39th Annual Exhibition (Memorial Art Gallery label verso)