Charles Webster Hawthorne


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Painter. A figure painter who straddled old and new currents in the art of his time, his work eludes narrow characterization. Like the impressionists, he generally favored scenes of leisure and domestic life. At times, especially early in his career, he employed a rugged approach more allied with the Ashcan painters' robust examination of low-life topics. Hawthorne's technique pays homage to the painterly tradition of Frans Hals (whom he particularly admired), Velázquez, and Manet. He also appreciated the work of James Abbott McNeill Whistler and William Merritt Chase, his most influential teacher. Thoughtful and dignified, his mature portraits and genre scenes combine solid structure with adroit brushwork. Born in the Midwest (while his mother visited relatives), Hawthorne grew up in Richmond, on Maine's Kennebec River. After moving to New York in 1890, he studied with George de Forest Brush and H. Siddons Mowbray, as well as Chase. His first trip abroad, in 1898, took him to Holland. Later, he made extended visits to Italy and Paris, and traveled widely to other locations. Hawthorne taught for many years in New York and in Provincetown, where he founded the Cape Cod School of Art in 1899. Although his art remained untouched by modernist styles, he remained widely respected among artists for his masterful technique and the integrity of his vision. He died in a Baltimore hospital. His wife, painter Marion Campbell Hawthorne (1870–1945), worked chiefly in watercolor. Born in Lacon, southwest of Chicago, Ethel Marion Campbell studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and with Chase before marriage in 1903. In 1938 she published Hawthorne on Painting, a compilation of his teaching methods. She died in New York.

Subjects: Art.

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