Anna Eliza Hardy, the daughter of the artist Jeremiah Pearson Hardy and Catherine Sears Wheeler Hardy was born Jan. 26, 1839 in Bangor Maine. She has been described by William Gerdts as “the finest still-life specialist in Maine in the nineteenth century” (“Art Across America”). Her family was at the center of Bangor’s very important art community. Anna Eliza, or Annie as she was known, was the only daughter and youngest of four children. Hardy’s early education was that of schools in Bangor, Maine. She painted her first painting at the age of sixteen under her father’s encouragement, promising her one of his landscapes if she would copy it. Her love of color thus aroused, she spent most of the rest of her life in a prolific outpouring of small but exquisite still life’s. Her chief instructor was her father although she later painted for a short time in the studio of George Jeannin in Paris and had some instruction with the American Painter Abott H. Thayer. Never marrying, she lived in Bangor, sharing her father’s studio until his death.
She was known to have a wide-ranging interest in everything from science to politics. The single theme of Anna Hardy’s art was the intimate world of still life. It has been said she executed her compositions with “loving precision rendering bouquets of roses and wild flowers, peeled oranges, translucent grapes, and folded linen napkins in a manner that blended the decorative instinct of a primitive with the illusionism of a trompe-l’oeil painter.” Her sense of color was refined and delicate, though she had the power to capture the quality and freshness of nature, which distinguished her earlier paintings gradually diminished in the course of a career that lasted nearly eight decades. Due to failing eyesight, her last works tend to be much less detailed. In later life she lived for a time at South Orrington, Maine.
Hardy was also a teacher of art and instructed a number of women artists who also specialized in floral paintings. Among her students were Charlotte Baldwin, Grace Hemenway, Florence Jennison, Nellie Lincoln, Mary Merrill, Katherine Parker Stewart, and Emma Webb. These women worked variously in oil, watercolor, and in china painting, a popular form encouraged by Bangor’s active Decorative Art Society.
She exhibited at the National Academy of Design1876-1977, the Boston Art Club 1888-1909, the Society of Independent Artists 1917, and the Jordon Art Gallery, Boston, 1894-1896. Lithographs of her flower paintings were made by Louis Prang & Company Chromolithographs in the 1870s.
Anna Eliza Hardy died of heart disease in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts at the age of ninety-five on Dec. 15, 1934.