Art: Hubard the Unhappy

Americans are apt to think of surrealism as a European disease which has only recently infected the U.S. Actually, U.S. surrealists have always been lurking about.

In Richmond this week, two museums were showing the work of an odd painter named William James Hubard, who died there in 1862. Hubard had painted gloomy but perfectly proper portraits of Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay and Richmond belles for a living; evenings he turned his hand to what he called "Gothick" fantasies. A few, like his Silent Violinist (see cut), were weird enough to recall his melancholy contemporary, Edgar Allan Poe.

Hubard's past was as shadowy...

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