Henry Dearth was born in Bristol, Rhode Island, the youngest of five children. After his family moved to Waterbury, Connecticut, he spent three months in the studio of a portrait painter before traveling to Paris to study at the École des Beaux Arts. Returning to the United States, Dearth exhibited at the National Academy of Design and the Society of American Artists. He opened a studio in New York, spent his summers in Normandy, and had a house and studio on the English Channel coast. Dearth began painting in the subdued tones of the French Barbizon painters but eventually came under the influence of the Post-Impressionists and also was influenced by Japanese art. He was an able draughtsman and a noted colorist.
The Black Hat is an example of Dearth’s late period, which was characterized by flat modeling and rich color harmonies. A letter in the artist’s file from his wife dates the painting to 1916 and identifies the sitter as her husband’s frequent model Miss Dorothy Hart. It also indicates that The Black Hat was painted in New York and describes the background as a Japanese print of the Tosa School.
Carder, James N. American Art at Dumbarton Oaks. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2010.
Dearth, Mrs. Henry Golden. Mrs. Henry Golden Dearth to Anna Hasselman, Curator of the Museum, John Herron Art Institute, n.d. Indianapolis Museum of Art Historical File 22.21.
Hammer, Victor J., and Richard Lynch. Foreword to Henry Golden Dearth, American, 1863-1918: Exhibition, September 22 – October 3, 1981. New York: Hammer Galleries, 1981. Exhibition catalog.