“Stanley Hallett is your uncle?” All these years later, I am still impressed.
The Art of Francis Stanley Hallett, by Dawn Mahoney
I am excited to talk about the artist Stanley Hallett today and explain his significance as well as to recount his family’s entrepreneurial spirit.
The Wilton Center Artists’ Colony
When I was in college, what is now Rivier University was then a liberal arts college. As a student, I was required to take a few courses in many different subjects. One of my favorites was a class in American Art Appreciation. The professor lectured about the abundance of nationally-known artists in the Monadnock Region and specifically, The Wilton Center Artists’ Colony. She listed and showed works of all the famous artists who had lived and painted there, especially Chauncey Ryder and, still painting when I took the course, was Francis Stanley Hallett.
A retrospective of this Colony in the The Milford Cabinet says the group was “considered to have begun in 1901 when Ross Turner rented a a studio in a barn and ended in 1987 with the death of longtime resident Stanley Hallett.” No one knows why Mr. Turner chose Wilton Center, but in those 86 years, several famous artists and writers lived there. A personal friend and an artistic influence of Mr. Hallett was the major American Post-Impressionist painter Chauncey Ryder who also had a permanent home there. The Milford Cabinet’s Archives has published several articles about dinner parties at the Hallett’s house attended by Mr. and Mrs. Ryder—it seems that they were a social bunch.
The Amherst Label Connection
It wasn’t long after I started working at Amherst Label that I noticed that Nick had several paintings of Stanley Hallett’s here in the office. His pallete knife style is very distinctive. I asked him why he had these paintings and nonchalantly, he commented that the artist was his uncle. “Stanley Hallett is your uncle??” All these years later, I am still impressed.
Francis Stanley Hallett was born in 1905 in Newton, Massachusetts. His mother Blanche was the daughter of Francis E. Stanley, one of the two twin brothers who founded Stanley Motor Carriage Company and invented the Stanley Steamer Automobile.
After college and starting a photography studio, The Stanley Twins patented a machine for coating dry plates, and set up the Stanley Dry Plate Company in Massachusetts, which they sold to Eastman-Kodak when they became interested in the automobiles.
Stanley Steamer Automobile Invention
The steam-powered automobile business was very successful until the rise of the internal combustion engine. A Stanley Steamer set the world record for the fastest mile in an automobile (28.2 seconds) in 1906. This record (127 mph) was not broken until 1911. Comic Jay Leno has the distinction of driving the oldest car that got stopped for speeding when his 1906 wooden classic Stanley Steamer was pulled over for doing 76 on a California freeway.
Stanley Hallett Career
From this background of entrepreneurial success, F. Stanley Hallett began his career in the arts as a violinist studying at the New England Conservatory of Music. He was a member of the New York University Orchestra in 1926 and worked as a concert violinist and orchestra conductor until the mid 50s. He moved to Wilton Center with Nick’s Aunt Eleanore by 1947.
Stanley Hallett didn’t begin painting until the age of 51 in around 1956. (Can you imagine starting a whole new direction of focus at that point in your life? Nick Calvetti Sr. founded Amherst Label at about the same age!—Editor’s Note.) Hallett took lessons from several noted instructors—but, he was largely self-taught. He started out using watercolors but quickly began painting with a putty or pallete knife similar to the technique used by Van Gogh. He was much sought after as an expert of this technique to demonstrate and teach.
A director of the New Hampshire Art Association, Hallett was a member of the prestigious Copley Society in Boston. He exhibited widely in New England, had several one-man shows, and his work was exhibited at the 1964 World’s Fair.
Last fall, a large estate auction in Wilton Center offered two of his paintings for sale. Nick and Angela Calvetti came to the auction and were able to buy both paintings to add to the family collection (one is pictured at left). The auctioneer commented, “We all remember Mr. Hallett who lived right around the corner for many years.”
Stanley Hallett is well-remembered in Wilton Center and we honor him here at Amherst Label.