1856 (Amesbury, Massachusetts)
1933 (Mystic, Connecticut)
Connecticut/New York/Massachusetts / France
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Often Known For
cloudscape painting, portrait, landscape, animal, figure
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Categories of Interest
New York Armory Show of 1913
Impressionists Pre 1940
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, Charles Davis became one of the more recognized of the Tonalist and Impressionist painters in America. He was also the leading member of the colony of artists who gathered at Mystic, Connecticut. His early landscapes that gave him the reputation for Tonalism and that resulted from his visit to Barbizon, France, depicted every hour from dawn to sunset with a subtlety of form and color. However, in the mid 1890s, his style changed dramatically to Impressionism.|
Davis did not set out to be an artist, and he had early employment in a carriage factory. However, after attending an exhibition featuring works by Jean Francois Millet, French Barbizon-School painter, he, with the encouragement of his father, enrolled in 1877 in the newly founded school at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. His teacher was Otto Grundman.
In 1880, a local businessman who was highly impressed with the talents of Davis gave him a thousand dollars to study in France. He enrolled at the Academie Julian with Jules Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger but lived for ten years near Barbizon where he was much influenced by that style of landscape painting. He married a French woman, Angele Legarde, and also exhibited at the Paris Salon.
Meanwhile, he sent works home and had one-man exhibitions regularly at Doll and Richards Gallery in Boston. In 1891, he returned to the United States and settled in Mystic, Connecticut where the local area provided him with many rural subjects for his painting, which emphasized the quiet aspects of nature. He started the Mystic Art Colony in 1892, and shortly after that, critics began to notice a change in his style that was becoming increasingly Impressionistic. He became especially noted for cloudscapes with brilliant blues, and cumulous clouds "and vivid color contrasts that endowed the scene with the characteristic Impressionist sense of the momentary." (Gerdts 229)
After the death of his first wife, he married Francis Darby, one of his students, who exhibited regularly at Mystic and also wrote reviews of the local art exhibitions.
Davis exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute, the National Academy of Design in New York, the Armory Show of 1913, and the Pan-Pacific Exposition in 1915. He won a silver medal at the Universal Exposition of 1889 in Paris.
He died at the age of 77 and willed his library of more than eight-hundred art reference books to the public library in Westerly, Rhode Island, the closest major library to Mystic.
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
William Gerdts, American Impressionism
|Biography from The Cooley Gallery:|
|Charles Harold Davis was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts. He became
interested in art at a young age and was inspired to pursue training
after attending an exhibit of French Barbizon painting in Boston.
Shortly thereafter, he enrolled as a student at the School of the
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where he studied under Otto Grundmann
(1844-1890). In 1881, Davis went to Paris and remained there for
to a decade.|
During the artist's French years, he studied at the Academie Julian and
painted landscapes of the French countryside, particularly
Fontainebleau and Normandy. These French paintings have been referred
to by foremost American art historian William Gerdts as softy Tonal
landscapes in the Barbizon mode that are "among the finest painted by
In France, Davis exhibited at the Paris Salon and at the Paris
Exposition, receiving recognition at both venues. At the same time, he
built his reputation in America by sending works home for exhibition in
New York and Boston.
Davis returned to the United States in 1890, and settled in Mystic,
Connecticut, where he resided for the rest of his career. In
Connecticut, Davis's landscapes shifted in style from Tonal Barbizon to
Impressionist, and by 1895 he turned his focus to a specific theme of
cloudscapes, for which he is best known. In these richly colored,
sun-filled paintings of the Connecticut countryside, Davis depicts low
horizons and big skies filled with dancing clouds that cast shadows
across the landscape.
The leading figure in the Mystic Art Colony, Davis also founded the
Mystic Art Association in 1913; other artists who followed Davis's lead
to Mystic were David Walkley and John Joseph Enneking. A
successful painter who received much critical acclaim during his
lifetime, Davis had one-man shows at William Macbeth's gallery in New
York and at Doll and Richards in Boston, and his works were exhibited
in major national and international exhibitions of the period.
Society of American Artists, New York, NY
National Academy of Design, New York, NY
Copley Society, Boston, MA
Lotos Club, New York, NY
National Arts Club, New York, NY
Society of Mystic Artists, Mystic, CT
Honorable Mention (Paris Salon, 1887)
Silver Medal (Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1889)
Palmer Prize (Art Institute of Chicago, 1890)
Medal (Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic‚s Association, Boston, 1890)
Medal (Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893)
Grand Gold Medal (American Art Association, New York, 1896)
Cash Prize (American Art Association, 1897)
Potter Palmer Prize (Chicago Art Institute, 1898)
Bronze Medal (Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900)
Lippincott Prize (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1901)
Silver Medal (Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, 1901)
Silver Medal (Universal Exposition, St. Louis, 1904)
Silver Medal (Universal Exposition International, 1910)
Gold Medal (Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, 1915)
Second W.A. Clark Prize and Corcoran Silver Medal (Corcoran Gallery,
Saltus Medal (National Academy of Design, 1921)
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