Robert Duff receives his artistic inspiration from everyday life, from familiar places that may he overlooked in busy times. A native of New England, Duff creates paintings that have feelings of serenity; such as 19th-century lighthouses against a brilliant sunset or a delicately woven Nantucket basket filled with hydrangeas. Mainly a self-taught artist, Duff developed his technique from extensive study of the 19th-century American painters of the Hudson River and Luminous schools. Duff's 35-year career has brought a unique maturity and vision to his work. Accomplished both as a landscape and still-life painter; Duff shows an acute understanding of color and light.
Duff Draws Inspiration, Paints Serenity, from the Everyday Decor Magazine August 2003
Realistic in effect while simple in technique, these rich canvases are difficult to take your eyes away from. "I like to remove any trace of the artist from my paintings", Duff says. "I want the viewer to enjoy the scene without having to look past the technique." Born in 1946 in New Bedford, Mass., Duff grew up just a mile or so farther away from the water in Acushnet, where he spent his childhood in what he calls a "Norman Rockwell painting". Long summer days spent wandering the banks of the Acushnet River or playing in fields of freshly mown hay left him with a deep sense of respect and admiration for natural beauty. "These memories, perhaps larger than life, are often the catalyst for many of my most-popular paintings.I want to bring you where I have been", he says. Duff and his wife, Debra, established The Duff Gallery in 1986. Their personal style of working directly with clients has given them great pleasure in seeing his works acquired both by private and corporate collectors worldwide. Duff has been the focus of more than 20 one-man shows, including museum exhibitions. He also has been showcased in numerous national publications.
For more than 20 years, Mr. Duff has had an affinity for the house, its place in local history, and the Rotch family, having been acquainted with their summer home, Hill Top. "As I've come to concentrate more on the maritime history of the area, the house took on the role of a repository for a whole way of life that represented success to many of the area's 19th-century whaling merchants," the artist said.
Like several of New Bedford's historical artists, including William Bradford, Mr. Duff is largely self-taught. The current Bradford retrospective exhibition at the Whaling Museum, located conveniently across the street from Mr. Duff's studio and gallery, has afforded Mr. Duff unprecedented access to works by the Fairhaven master. "I go over there almost every day," said the painter with a great sense of gratitude. "It's such an incredible show, especially for someone like me. He handled light so beautifully."
Mr. Duff's painted view of the RJD is from an unexpected angle - as though he'd set his easel in the middle of the knot garden to capture the porch from the side. The American flag curls gently in a soft breeze, and is set off by the background of the beloved copper beech that fills the RJD's right front yard. The painting's lower foreground is filled with the floral blooms that ring the knot garden near the porch's side steps, daubed onto the canvas almost impressionistically. The contrast in style with Mr. Duff's handling of the architectural details, in his usual near-photo-realist exactitude, provides a subtle moment of contrast and tension.
Especially grateful and appreciative is RJD Executive Director Kate Corkum. "Robert's gift is such a generous and much-appreciated way to support the museum," she said. "We look forward to sharing this wonderful perspective of the house, gardens and magnificent copper beech with our members and friends. "It is very special to have a painting by a New Bedford artist of one of New Bedford's most beautiful landscapes."
In a gesture of bountiful generosity, New Bedford painter Robert Duff has created an oil portrait of the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and given it to the house and garden museum as a gift. Additionally, the RJD might reproduce the painting's image as perhaps a limited-edition print or as postcards, notecards or in some manner from which the museum can realize a benefit. Mr. Duff's gallery, located in the historic district at Water and Centre streets, has become a downtown fixture since opening six years ago.
Robert puts finishing touches on his painting of Centre St. in front of his gallery in New Bedford's historic district.
Artist Robert Duff Centre St. New Bedford
Centre St. New Bedford
Centre St. New Bedford
Proudly Representing: Sculpture John Magnum Scrimshaw Al Doucette Fine Arts John Gamache Nantucket Baskets Trisha Brown Marquetry Boxes Ted Brillon
Book of Wonders
Magnum-Duff Collaboration Series #3
Special Exhibits of 2 local talented artists John Gamache and Kim Gatesman July 19 - August 15