George Hitchcock was born in 1850 in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Charles and Olivia (Cowell) Hitchcock. A descendant of Roger Williams, the founding father of Rhode Island, Hitchcock graduated from Brown University in 1872, later graduating with a degree from Harvard Law School. He practiced law for a time in Providence and in New York but soon abandoned the profession to study art. He went first to London to study and then on to Paris to study under Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre. After leaving Paris, he traveled to Düsseldorf, Germany to study further and then on to The Hague in Holland where he studied under H.W. Mesdag. He obtained medals for painting in Berlin, Dresden, Munich, Venice, and Vienna and exhibited extensively throughout Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, and in America. He was an Associate Academician and a corresponding member of the Paris Society of American Painters. He was the first American to be made a member of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna and the first American officer of the Franz Josef Order of Austria. He was also a chevalier of the Légion d’honneur and a member of the Munich Secession, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the National Academy of Design in New York. Hitchcock died of heart disease in Holland in August 1913 where he had traveled to touch up a few paintings that were scheduled to be exhibited in America the following winter.
Hitchcock often returned to compositions that including landscapes or cityscapes with a focus on a single figure. In La Paysanne Hitchcock draws attention to the importance of the single figure by placing her in the center of the page and at the meeting point of two hills in the distance. Furthering her importance, she looks directly at the viewer. Hitchcock frequently imbued ordinary landscape and figure representations with veiled biblical reference, here through a peasant who works the earth, placing her closer to God.
Greenwich Gallery, CT., until 1995
Private collection, Greenwich CT., 1995 to present