George Hitchcock was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and studied at Brown University. After an early law career, he went to Europe to study watercolor painting. After studying with the Hague School painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag and at the Académie Julian in Paris, he settled in the Dutch town of Egmond aan Zee.
Although Holland had long been a stop on American artists’ tours of Europe because of their reverence for the Dutch Old Masters, the country’s contemporary appearance did not capture their interest until the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In 1880, after George H. Boughton and Edwin Austin Abbey took an extended sketching trip through Holland, they publicized the “paintable” aspects of Dutch life in a magazine article and a subsequent book. Soon, artists such as George Hitchcock, Gari Melchers, and Walter MacEwen visited the country, established artists’ colonies in rural villages, and took their surroundings as the subject of their art. Hitchcock was perhaps the most visible and vocal advocate for Dutch subject matter during the late nineteenth century. His successes in the late 1880s and early 1890s at international exhibitions led art students to visit Holland, and at this time he also published a series of articles in Scribner’s Magazine extolling the picturesque qualities of traditional Dutch life.
After initially painting seascapes and figural works with religious overtones in Egmond aan Zee, in 1891 Hitchcock moved inland to Egmond aan den Hoef, where he depicted the fields of flowers in a more Impressionistic style.
Hitchcock’s works can be found in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence; Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.