PRINT September 1963


Dalzell Hatfield (1884–1963)

DALZELL HATFIELD, 69, INTERNATIONAL ART DEALER  who died in Los Angeles July 13, opened his first art gallery here in 1925. From the start of his activities he set standards of quality that helped to edu­cate the rather provincial art taste of an area destined to become a world me­tropolis.

“Dal” had art dealing in his blood. At 16 he rode trains out of Chicago selling color prints of paintings throughout the Midwest. When just past 20 he opened a gallery in Chicago, a venture which end­ed when he joined the Navy in World War I.

In the 1920’s the bulk of the art trade in Los Angeles consisted of sales of landscapes of mountain and shore scenes by local painters. More than half of these were bought by tourists or winter residents in a region which could still show plenty of “nature undefiled.” Visiting art dealers sold 18th century English portraits to residents who emu­lated Henry E. Huntington’s lead, but without his money. The few collectors with higher ambitions went to New York, Boston or Europe to buy.

Soon after opening here Hatfield staged a series of exhibitions which sur­veyed the history of figure and land­scape painting in the United States. Barbizon and Impressionist paintings had some of their first systematic show­ings here in his gallery. Many of the best 17th century Dutch and 18th century English paintings in local exhibitions were sold by him.

At the same time he searched for fresh local talent. He took on the young Millard Sheets, opening his first big show on Black Monday, 1929. Hatfield’s energetic promotion of Sheets’ watercolors helped bring fame to that artist and to the new California Watercolor School.

Other artists whose work he has sys­tematically promoted include Russell Cowles, Grigory Gluckmann, Richard Haines, Mary Bowling and Dan Lutz. His “firsts” in this city include exhibitions of paintings by Corot, Daumier, Renoir, Gauguin and Raoul Dufy.

By 1939 Hatfield was securing in Eu­rope works by Impressionist, Post-Im­pressionist and Expressionist leaders for collections throughout the United States. He supplied almost all the paint­ings now in the Marion Koogler McNay Museum of Modern Art in San Antonio, Texas.

Artists and clients alike knew Hatfield as a friend, a genial and kindly man with great enthusiasm for living. When he de­cided to paint he won a prize in a local show under an assumed name. He be­came a masterly photographer. He was a gourmet who would spend two days con­cocting a special sauce. The guests at his exhibition openings formed a Who’s Who of southern California’s cultural elite.

A good share of the Dalzell Hatfield Galleries’ success is due to the devoted help of his widow, Ruth, who master­minded the complicated bookkeeping, correspondence and other administra­tive details and accompanied her hus­band on his many buying and selling forays. She now directs the galleries in the Ambassador Hotel, aided by her nephew, Ernest Pumphrey, who has been the manager for many years.

Dalzell Hatfield will be long missed by the many of us who knew him as a fine man and a warm friend.

Arthur Miller