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John Davis Hatch papers, 1790-1995

Biographical Note

Art historian, collector, educator, and museum administrator John Davis Hatch (1907-1996) worked in the Boston and New England area, as well as the Pacific Northwest, and New York state. Hatch served as director of the Art Institute of Seattle, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Albany Institute of Art and History, and the Norfolk Museum of Art and Sciences.
John Davis Hatch was born in San Francisco, California in 1907. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were architects and Hatch studied landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. He served as an apprentice to Lockwood de Forest. After abandoning landscape architecture, he accepted a position as director of the Seattle Fine Arts Society (1928-1931) at the age of twenty-one and taught art history courses at the University of Washington.
In 1932, Hatch accepted the position of assistant director of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. He also directed the federal Public Works of Art Project in New England. Additionally, Hatch served from 1940-1948 as director of the Albany Institute of Art and History and from 1950-1959 of the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences. Hatch worked as an art advisor for exhibitions at five historically African-American colleges in Atlanta and in San Simeon in California. He founded the American Drawing Annual exhibition.
Hatch conducted extensive research on artists Oscar Bluemner and John Vanderlyn, American silverwork, and American drawing. In addition, Hatch collected American drawings and later donated many of works of art from his personal collection to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Aside from his early teaching in Washington state, Hatch taught at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Oregon. He was a member of numerous professional arts-related organizations.
In 1939, Hatch married Olivia Stokes with whom he had four children: Sarah, John, Daniel and James. He died in 1996.