Melbourne H. Hardwick (1857-1916)

Melbourne H. Hardwick (1857-1916)

Born on September 29, 1857 in Digby, Nova Scotia, Melbourne Hardwick never lived far from the sea, as he maintained residences on Boston’s waterfront and spent time along Massachusetts’ coastal North Shore and at European seaside destinations. He studied in both Boston and Europe under Triscott, Luyton and Blummers, and frequently returned to such locales as Holland, England and Nova Scotia later in his career. While Boston was Hardwick’s primary home, William Gerdts in his text Art Across America lists him as one of a collection of artists who did not just visit Gloucester on summer excursions, but resided in the town for substantial parts of the year. He exhibited his Gloucester themed watercolors and oils with the Boston Art Club annually from 1888 until 1909, the National Academy of Design (1891-1893), the Art Institute of Chicago (1891-1910) and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1890-1901). Known primarily as a watercolorist of landscapes, Hardwick’s submissions to these exhibitions account for his broad talent and also include a selection of figurative and genre scene. His presence in local and national exhibitions made him a prominent member of Boston’s art community, and he maintained membership to the Boston Society of Watercolor Painters and the Boston Art Club. Hardwick was also a member of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts and the Salmagundi Club in New York. 

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Between the years of 1910 and 1938, a number of marine paintings bearing the signature T. Bailey appeared on the Boston art market, but no one appeared to personally know the artist. Later evidence proved that Bailey was in fact a pseudonym created by the London salesman Marris Hambro (1860-1938). Hambro began marketing Bailey’s work in Boston beginning in 1910, and supposedly had a number of artists supplying the works. He would purchase them for between $15 and $20, add Bailey’s signature, and resell them to Boston businesses and galleries for close to $50. Possible Boston painters include Vivian Forsyethe Porter, Max Berman, Sears Thompson, Mae Bennet Brown and Melbourne Hardwick. It is not known whether these painters were aware of Hambro’s scheme.

References: Falk, Who Was Who in America Art; William Gerdts, Art Across America, vol. 1; BAC, PAFA, AIC, NAD Exhibition Records; Melbourne Hardwick Obituary, New York Times, Oct. 26, 1916.  

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