David Hanna (artist)

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David Hanna (artist)
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William David Hanna

(1941-08-31)August 31, 1941
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
DiedJanuary 13, 1981(1981-01-13) (aged 39)
Jeannette, Pennsylvania
Resting placeRound Pond, Maine
StyleRealist painting
Spouse(s)Carolyn Jean Elco

William David Hanna (August 31, 1941 – January 13, 1981), known as David Hanna, was an American artist who produced drawings, paintings, and sculpture in graphite, watercolor, egg tempera, drybrush, bronze, and marble. Hanna lived and worked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Bristol, Maine,[1] and his art predominantly focused on the structures, furnishings, and people of those regions.

Early life

David Hanna was born in 1941 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the youngest child of a large working-class family. Hanna left school at the age of 14 to work at a gas station and then a dance studio.[2] In 1959, he married Carolyn Jean Elco, a dance instructor. From 1960 to 1964, Hanna served in the Army Special Services, Airborne Division in Laos and Vietnam.[1] While in the military, he earned the equivalent of a high school diploma.[3]


In 1964, Hanna returned to Pittsburgh and began pursuing a career as an artist. His work was first shown in an exhibit at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in 1965, where he displayed 17 paintings.[4] In 1966, he moved to Chester County, Pennsylvania, to study the Brandywine tradition of American realist painting.[5] That same year, members of the Mellon family organized an exhibit of Hanna's work in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, and by 1967, his work had been featured at galleries including the International Art Gallery in South Hills, Pennsylvania, and the Washington Gallery of Art in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC.[2] [6]

In 1967, Hanna moved with his family to Bristol, Maine. The family first resided in the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse and later in a house in the village of Round Pond.[3] A large body of work between 1968 and 1975 include paintings and drawings such as Night Watch (1971) and Final Farewell (1975) depicting Captain Alexander Breede (d. 1971), a retired seaman.[1] [7]

Hanna continued to paint, draw, and sculpt through the 1970s. His work was shown in museums and galleries including the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, drawing interest from collectors and commentators including Paul A. Chew, a former director of the Westmoreland, and George Nama, an artist and teacher of draftsmanship and printmaking at the University of Pittsburgh.[8] [9] [7] [10]

In 1971, Hanna was included in the traveling exhibition "Brandywine Tradition Artists: Featuring the works of Howard Pyle, Frank E. Schoonover, The Wyeth Family, Charles Colombo, David Hanna (1971-1972),” which showed in six museums across the United States.[11] [12]

During the 1970s, Hanna also contributed works to a 1973 book titled The White House Gardens: A History and Pictorial Record with commentary by Rachel Lambert Mellon, often known as Bunny Mellon, a renowned horticulturalist, gardener, and art collector whose family owned a number of Hanna's works.[13] [14]

The exhibition "David Hanna: Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings", organized in 1977 by Chew at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, featured 78 artworks including depictions of Hanna’s children such as A Million Miles Away (1971), the architecture and furnishings of his native Pennsylvania, and the landscape, buildings, and inhabitants of Maine and other New England states, such as The Keith House (1974-1975).[5] [7]

Hanna suffered a fatal heart attack on January 13, 1981, while traveling in Pennsylvania. He was survived by his wife and seven children.[4] A memorial exhibition was organized at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in May 1981.[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "City Artist David Hanna Dies". The Pittsburgh Press. January 14, 1981. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kienzle, Connie (October 9, 1967). "Art and Artist Both Colorful". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Barter, J. Malcolm. "Artist David Hanna: Maine's Young Magic Realist". No. September 1971. Down East Magazine.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Obituaries: D. Hanna, naturalistic artist". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 15, 1981. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Hanna Exhibition to Open Tuesday". The Latrobe Bulletin. November 18, 1977. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  6. Stewart, Ami C. (May 11, 1967). "David Hanna's One-Man Exhibit Opens at Washington Gallery of Art". Georgetowner, pages 1–2.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Chew, Paul (1977). David Hanna: Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings (WorldCat OCLC: 217269885). Greensburg, PA: Westmoreland County Museum of Art.
  8. "David Hanna Exhibit Scheduled at WVU". Beckley Post-Herald. October 29, 1974. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  9. Linduff, Katheryn M. (1974). "Works By David Hanna, 1966–1974" (WorldCat OCLC: 985488806). Morgantown, WV: University of West Virginia.
  10. Brown, Doris E. (April 5, 1970). "Young Wyeth Style Disciple Has Rolls Royce Habits". Central New Jersey Home News. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  11. Carlin, Margie (October 27, 1971). "'Brandywine Tradition' On Exhibit". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  12. Kramer, Frederick L. (1971). An Album of Brandywine Tradition Artists (WorldCat OCLC: 235480). Great American Editions. pp. 46–51.
  13. "The White House Gardens". The Pittsburgh Press. October 14, 1973. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  14. Kramer, Frederick L. (1973). The White House Gardens: A History and Pictorial Record. New York, NY: Great American Editions, Ltd. pp. 61, 64. ISBN 978-0913826041.
  15. Pack, Phyllis (May 19, 1981). "Hanna: Museum Has Memorial Exhibit". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, page A7.

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