A Host of Golden Daffodils


Charles Webster Hawthorne ( American, 1872 - 1930 )

before 1927
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General Description

Charles Webster Hawthorne's mature work oscillates between two types of portraiture: tough-minded, heroic pictures of Cape Cod fishermen and their families and ethereal, dream-like treatments of young women, such as A Host of Golden Daffodils. His heavy application of paint and thick brush strokes evoke the handling of Frans Hals and Diego Velázquez. These European masters were held up as model for emulation by Hawthorne's teacher, William Merritt Chase. In his female studies, the broken brush work contributes to a feeling of the fleetingness of youth, beauty, and nature.

The complex surface of this portrait is due to Hawthorne’s experimentation with technique. The artist mixed varnish directly into the oil paint in between applications of glazes, which resulted in a textured, mottled surface that adds to the delicate nature of this idealized portrait. This process, however, threatens the stability and appearance of the painting over time.

Adapted from

  • William Keyse Rudolph, DMA Label copy (2006.26), June 2007.
  • William Keyse Rudolph, DMA Acquisition proposal (2006.26), September 2006.