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Marie Hull - A Chance to See the World

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Part of an ongoing series on Mississippi artist Marie Hull, showcased in this Fall and Winter’s celebratory exhibition, Bright Fields: The Mastery of Marie Hull.

Marie Hull (1890-1980), U.S. Highway 80 in Arizona, graphite on paper. 16x10in. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art. Bequest of the artist. 1981.279i_pp. 64-65

The Hulls did not remain long in Florida, apparently not more than one year. Nor were they content to “settle down” in Jackson and get on with a typical domestic life. Instead they took advantage of the better automobiles and better roads of the 1920s to see something of the vast country which was now linked from coast to coast by highways such as U.S. 80 (which stretched from Savannah to San Diego). They clearly made more than one long journey by car to the deserts and mountains of the West, and up the entire Pacific Coast from San Diego to Seattle. Everywhere they went Marie filled sketchbooks with drawings and watercolors of the landscape, the plant and animal life, local architecture (both old and new), and sometimes of events such as parades, festivals, and religious services—all copiously annotated with her observations of color, topography, and even meteorological peculiarities. From these sources she later made scores and scores of paintings, like the depiction of Spanish Daggers (the flowering yucca gloriosa) which in 1929 was submitted to the Texas Wildflower Competitive Exhibition of the San Antonio Art League, where the jury (chaired by her former teacher, Robert W. Vonnoh) chose it from nearly 700 works for the second-place award—and the enormous sum of $2500.

Marie Hull (1890-1980), Town Square, Uzerche, 1929. watercolor and graphite on paper. 10 x 14in. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art. Bequest of the artist. 1981.279t_p. 56

With her prize money Mrs. Hull financed an eight-month trip to France, Spain, and Morocco with George Elmer Browne, a member of the National Academy of Design, an accomplished landscape painter, and a highly respected teacher who organized extended “field trips” for aspiring artists. There she continued (as she had done at home) to create a visual archive of the people and places in this new realm of experience. In sketchbooks of various types and sizes she made drawings with a black Conté crayon, and watercolors paintings in her usual technique of watercolor over an elaborate under-drawing drawing in pencil (i.e., graphite). Because many pages of these books have been inscribed with the names of the sites, and many are also dated, it is possible to be clear about the course and rate of the group’s progress during the months of July, August, and September 1929, with much less information available for October, by which time the class had left Algeciras (Spain) for Morocco. Here you see just a few of the works that, over the years, were removed from Hull’s sketchbooks; others can be seen in the exhibition On the Road with Marie Hull which is displayed in the McCarty Foundation Gallery near The Museum Store and the entrance to our building.

Marie Hull (1890-1980), Porte de la Jane, Cordes, 1929. graphite on paper. 22 x 26in. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art. Bequest of the artist. 1981.292.