A Daughter’s Tribute to Her Artist Father

JAMES M. HART N. A.

MAY 10, 1828

OCT. 24, 1901

James McDougal Hart was a 19th Century landscape artist born in Scotland who immigrated to America with his family as a small boy.  After a stint as an apprentice to a sign and carriage maker, James began to study art seriously.  He studied art in Europe and also in the United States.  Later, Hart adopted the Hudson River School style of painting and is considered one of their major painters.  Hart’s favorite subjects were bucolic scenes of the American landscape that usually included cattle and farms.

The rock-face gray granite monument in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, for James McDougal Hart, has a bronze inset depicting a calf sitting in a pasture next to a sign with the words “HE MAKETH ME LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES.”  A kneeling angel holds an artist’s palette in one hand as her other arm is extended over the length of the sign and holding a palm frond.  The palm frond symbolizes victory over death.

In the right-hand corner of the bronze bas-relief is the name of the sculptor, “M T Hart.” M T Hart was Mary Theresa Hart, James Hart’s daughter and an artist in her own right.

The inset pays tribute to her father’s favorite subject matter combining it with a line from the Bible verse from the 23rd Psalm.  In an obvious nod to her father’s profession, the angel holds the palette.  The “N. A.” carved after Hart’s name stands for the National Academy of Design.  Hart was a member for decades, an officer of the organization, and displayed his works at the National Academy for well over 40 years.

Both of James Hart’s daughters, Letitia Bonnet Hart (1867 – Sept. 1953) and Mary Theresa Hart (1872–1942) were artists and both are buried in unmarked graves in the Hart family plot.

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