Beards of Note - William Morris Hunt

By Jennifer Snyder
August 2, 2010
Photograph of William Morris Hunt

Archivist Jennifer Snyder investigates the prominent beard of a prominent Boston artist in the latest installment of Beards of Note.

Portrait ofWilliam Morris Hunt
William Morris Hunt, ca 1860. Macbeth Gallery records, 1838-1968. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Photograph of William Morris Hunt
William Morris Hunt, ca. 1866. James Wallace Black, photographer. Miscellaneous photograph collection. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

William Morris Hunt should be considered one of Boston’s most important painters, becoming one of the most prolific creators of landscapes and portraits in the nineteenth century. He also traveled in Boston’s most prominent intellectual circles.

Unfortunately, Hunt suffered from depression and committed suicide in 1879 at the age of fifty-five. Hunt looks much older than fifty-five in both of these images and (I think) his state of mind is clearly reflected, as well.

The image on the above left is a photograph of Hunt’s 1866 self portrait, found at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA.

The photograph below shows Hunt in a painter’s smock with his palette and brushes at his studio in Boston, his beard a bit shorter and whiter in 1879, shortly before his death.

Jennifer Snyder works with oral history interviews at the Archives American Art. When not sending interviews out for digitization, she is writing about extraordinary examples of facial hair for this blog.


I love Jennifer's facial hair posts!

What a great loss and sadly to a curable disease.

I'd like to see a mash-up of Mustaches and Beards of Note with <a href="; rel="nofollow">the Trustworthiness of Beards</a>

Reading blogs can be interesting if the writer does good research.

Thank you for sharing those thoughts posted above.So touching.God Bless

This is a very nice article. I've learned a lot while reading this. I'll regularly visit this site for upcoming posts. Thanks a lot for sharing this to us.

I learned about Hunt in school. I personally relate to him because I have depression myself. What a wonderful painter. Thanks for sharing!

I must say that this was a very constructive and informative
read! I would like to thank you for taking the time to write
this post and share this with us all!

Would be a delight to see the paintings of William Morris Hunt. Where can I find them?

Such a sad blog post considering that the disease is curable these days.

I learned more about in wall. I personally relate to him because I have no idea for rich and wonderfull wall color. What a wonderful painter. Thanks for sharing!its really nice post.. :)

Great post, I have seen some of his painting, and they are amazing. Thanks for sharing the information.