George Fuller, by Sidney Dickinson, 1884, continued.
and New York. In Boston he appeared as the student, rather than the producer of works, and laid the foundation of his style in observation of the paintings of Stuart, Copley, Allston, and Alexander, — all excellent models upon which to base a practice, although destined to show little of their influence upon the pictures which he painted in the maturity of his power. It is not to be doubted, however, that all these men, and particularly Stuart, made an impression upon him which he was never afterward wholly able to conceal. We may see even in some of his latest works, under his own peculiar manner, suggestions of Stuart, particularly in portraits of women, which in pose and expression, and to a considerable degree in color, show much of that dignity and composure which so distinguish the female heads of our greatest portrait-painter. He always admired Stuart, and in his later years spoke much of him, with strong appreciation for his skill in describing character, and the refined taste which is such a marked feature of his best manner.
His work in Boston made no particular impression upon the public mind, and after five years' trial of it he removed to New York, where he joined that brilliant circle of painters and sculptors which, with its followers, has made one of the strongest impressions, if not the most valuable or permanent, upon the art of America. During his residence in that city he devoted himself almost exclusively to portrait-painting, in which he developed a manner more distinguished for conventional excellence than any particular individuality. It was remarked of him, however, that he was disposed, even at this time, to seek to present the thought and disposition of his subjects more strongly than their merely physical features, and among his principal associates excited no little appreciative comment upon this tendency. In some of his portraits of women of that period, wherein he evidently attempted to present the superior fineness and sensibility of the feminine nature, this effort toward ideality is quite strongly indicated; they are painted with a more hesitating and lingering touch than his portraits of men, and with a certain seeming lack of confidence, which throws about them a thin fold of that veil of etherialism and mystery which so enwraps nearly all his pictures of the last eight years. This treatment, however, seems to have been at that time more the result of experiment than conviction; later in life he wrought its suggestions into a system, the principles of which we may study further on. His earlier work, as has been said, was chiefly confined to portrait-painting, although it is a significant fact that among his pictures of that time are two which show that the feeling for poetical and imaginative effort was working in him. At a comparatively early age he painted an impression of Coleridge's Genevieve, which showed marked evidence of power, and later, after seeing a picture of the school of Rubens, which was owned by one of his artist friends, produced a study which he afterward seems to have developed into his well-known Boy and Bird; a Cupid-like figure, holding a bird closely against its breast. These exercises, however, seem to have been, as it were, accidental, and had little or no effect in leading him to the practice in which he afterward became absorbed.
His life in New York, which was
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