Slippery Morning

Object Details

Thomas Hunster
Between 1875 and 1929
oil on canvas
24 13/16 × 35 9/16 in. (63 × 90.4 cm)
Frame: 30 11/16 × 41 15/16 × 2 3/8 in. (78 × 106.5 × 6 cm)
This tree-filled painting depicts an icy winter morning, but its title also hints at the human experience of the landscape, and perhaps also figuratively at the artistic challenge of capturing its beauty and the scene’s impermanence.
The scene is likely inspired by wooded lands in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on the outskirts of Washington, DC, where the Thomas Watson Hunster (1851-1929) and his spouse, Susan Alice Lewis, settled in 1911. The couple bought a plot in Ardwick, a community of African American professionals, from artist William Stanton Wormley. A native of Cincinnati, Hunster’s love of landscape painting may have originated with painters working in the area at the time including his childhood friend, Silas Jerome Uhl (1841-1916), and Robert S. Duncanson (1821/22-1872), another landscape and portrait painter of African American descent.
Hunster worked as Director of Drawing for Washington, DC’s Black public schools, where he developed an innovative curriculum that incorporated art at every grade level, from kindergarten through teacher training at Miner Normal School. He encouraged students to draw and paint what they observed, both in classrooms with live plants and animals brought in for that purpose and beyond school walls. Modeling what he taught, Professor Hunster painted his surroundings.
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