Charles Woodward Hutson


had a multifaceted career as a soldier, lawyer, professor, author, and writer before beginning, upon retirement, a new thirty-year career, at age sixty-five, making art.As a Southern gentleman of gentry and an erudite scholar, his art, while without formal art training, was sophisticated, and reflected his love of nature and knowledge of literature, poetry, mythology, and history.Born of patrician heritage in McPhersonville, South Carolina, Hutson enjoyed literature at an early age, reading Homer, Virgil, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott. After he fought for his beloved South in the American Civil War, he followed his father’s footsteps and studied law, but was admitted to the state bar only to findthat practicing law was an unprofitable venture in the war-torn and destitute South. Following his studies of German, French, Italian, and Spanish, he began a lifetimecareer teaching Greek, metaphysics, moral philosophy, history, and modern languages at a variety of private schools, colleges, and universities throughout the South.Hutson moved his family to New Orleans at the conclusion of his teaching career and began making, at the urging of one of his children, pastel drawings,
en pleinair,
of the southern Louisiana landscape, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and, occasionally, reminiscences of the countryside of states where he had resided and taught. Hehad an uncanny facility to abstract nature without compromising the reality of its elements and atmosphere. Later, he worked in the mediums of watercolor and oil, painting almost every day until his death in New Orleans on May 27, 1936. Begun in 1923, the oils incorporated Hutson’s vast knowledge of obscure subjects withmythological and literary references, often mischievously testing his viewer’s understanding of the baffling imagery.Hutson’s artistic career attracted the attention of the art world, the press, and the public. His artwork was first shown publicly in 1917, at the Society of IndependentArtists in New York, and again in 1925. His first one-person museum exhibition was held in 1931 at the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art in New Orleans, where 47 oilswere presented. Two other posthumous, solo exhibitions of Hutson’s work at the Delgado Museum were staged in 1948 and 1965; the latter was a full retrospective.
See also
Painting, American Folk; Painting, Landscape.
Fagaly, William A. “The Gifted Amateur: The Art and Life of Charles Woodward Hutson.”
Folk Art,
vol. 22, no. 3 (fall 1997): 50–57.Janis, Sidney.
They Taught Themselves.
New York, 1942.Toledano, Ben C., and Roulhac Toledano.
Charles W.Hutson, 1840–1936.
New Orleans, La., 1965