Framed Drypoint Still Life signed by David Hanna, Sight Size 20 x 20, Frame Size 32 x 32".
William David Hanna was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on August 31st, 1941. The youngest of twelve children in a working-class home on the city’s North Side, Hanna demonstrated an unusual interest in antiques and historical sites as a child and spent much of his free time sketching.
Eager to make his own way in the world and with money scarce at home at the age of eleven Hanna was working long hours after school as a gas station attendant. In 1955 he dropped out of school and took a job at a local dance studio. Dance led to an interest in acting, which he pursued from 1958 to 1959 at the Reuben Silvers Acting Academy in Cleveland and later at the Estelle Harmon Acting Studio in Los Angeles. When his mother fell ill in 1959, Hanna returned to Pittsburgh and became the lead instructor at the Continental Dance Studio.
In 1959 Hanna met Carolyn Jean Elco, a fellow dance instructor at the studio. They married and welcomed their first of seven children in 1960. With a growing family to support Hanna enlisted in the Army Special Services, Airborne Division, where he served for three years. Sent to the Far East, he continued to sketch in his free time, completed his GED, and competed as a track athlete for the Army team.
Each year’s home leave brought a new baby. Upon completion of his active Army service in 1963 Hanna returned to his wife and then three children in Pittsburgh and took a job as an insurance salesman. As his artistic passion developed Hanna began to paint pictures nights and weekends to adorn the walls of the family apartment in Pittsburgh. The building manager, noticing the paintings, told Hanna of an upcoming exhibit in Pittsburgh that was looking for new artists.
David Hanna’s first exhibit at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in 1965 launched his artistic career. The enthusiastic reception and subsequent interest in his work allowed him to leave his job at the insurance company and rely solely on his income as an artist. His work became highly sought after by collectors in the Pittsburgh area, and he showed regularly at the International Art Gallery in nearby South Hills. With newfound freedom to pursue his craft full time, in 1966 Hanna spent a year in Chester County, Pennsylvania, studying the Brandywine tradition of American realist painting.
Drawn by its spectacular natural beauty, in 1967 the Hanna family moved to the rocky coast of Maine, a location that inspired much of Hanna’s subsequent work. While living in the caretaker’s house of the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse from 1967 to 1970 Hanna met Captain Alexander Breede, a retired seaman and fellow artist. The two became close friends, and Breede became the subject of a large body of Hanna’s work.
The 1970s were a highly creative decade for Hanna and he continued purposefully to develop as an artist. He studied human anatomy diligently and traveled to Europe where the genius of Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, and Johannes Vermeer particularly influenced him. Hanna’s favorite subjects were people, landscapes, and historical sites. He worked extensively with watercolor, drybrush, and egg tempera and later with clay sculpture. His art was shown in galleries across the United States and he had his first major solo museum exhibit at the Westmoreland County Museum of Art (now the Westmoreland Museum of American Art) in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1977.
On January 13, 1981, after meeting with the Westmoreland to discuss a second exhibit Hanna suffered a massive heart attack and died at the Monsour Medical Center in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania at the age of thirty-nine. He was survived by his wife, Carolyn, and their seven children. At the time of his death, Hanna was researching thirty-five American landmarks, intending to compile a book of historically accurate paintings and drawings of these sites. Much of his late work includes studies and paintings of these important monuments.
The vast majority of Hanna’s artworks, estimated to be more than 400 pieces, remain with their original collectors or their estates. (davidhanna.com)