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 Charles Herman Hubbell  (1899 - 1971)

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Lived/Active: Ohio      Known for: history of aviation painting, illustration, calendar art

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
Courtesy of the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum in Cleveland Ohio
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Charles H. Hubbell1899-1971
Excerpts from Aviation’s Pictorial Historian by G. Reiss and Charles H. Hubbell 1899-1971 by B. Wilson

Charles Hubbell was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1899. As a boy of 10 he became interested in aviation when a friend gave him an aeronautical magazine and he became an avid model airplane builder. Before he completed high school, he had designed and built many models as well as a man-sized glider. He graduated from the Cleveland School of Art in 1923. He traded his early paintings for flight time, soloing in 1925. He received CAA pilots License number 9792.

Charles worked as a commercial artist for several years painting airplanes mostly as a hobby as there was little demand for aviation art at that time. Cliff Henderson, the director of the National Air Races had seen Hubbell’s airplane paintings and had used them on his air race posters and programs. Cliff arranged a meeting with Fred Crawford, Chairman of Thompson Products, who sponsored the Thompson Trophy Races. This was the famous unlimited closed course race that started in 1929.

Henderson suggested that Charles paint the winners each year for a calendar. Fred Crawford agreed with great enthusiasm and sealed the deal with a handshake. That started a 30-year project for Hubbell…painting airplanes for Thompson. The first calendar was produced in 1939 and consisted of the first nine Thompson Trophy winners and four airliners. On each monthly picture, Hubbell faithfully gave the details of the subject aircraft—its make and type, specifications and performance data, engine and types. Each year thereafter the calendars featured a theme along with a section of Hubbell’s paintings. This panorama of aviation history continued through 1969 when Charles retired, followed by an additional four years with a series called the “Best of Hubbell”. The calendars would become the most authentic and complete history of aviation ever to be assembled so beautifully.

Charles Hubbell was the world’s best-known artist-historian of the early air age. He was a stickler for detail and he went to great lengths to assure accuracy, not only for the aircraft, but the backgrounds as well. He would traveled more than 65,000 miles in a single year to obtain technical information to stamp his paintings with authenticity, and to capture the clouds and terrain that set the mood of the many colorful scenes depicted in his work.

During his association with TRW, Hubbell had created 32 calendars and more than 375 individual oil paintings. His watercolors and drawings number over 600. Hubbell’s paintings have hung in the white house, in museums, palaces, libraries, and homes of countless thousands of aviation buffs throughout the world.

The major portion of Charles Hubbells body of work was commissioned by the Thompson-TRW Company. Most of the hugely popular annual calendars and lithograph original art was done in oil. Eventually The TRW Company donated most of these originals to the Crawford Auto & Aviation Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. (Also known as the Western Reserve Museum, where they can be seen, today.) Original oils are rarely offered on the open market. Most from our collection were in the Smithsonian Exhibition.

Of the original oils from Hubbells own collection, which hung in his home or in his Cleveland studio at Thompson Products Co. these are some of his most significant works:

The magnificent Laird Super Solution was chosen as the poster image out of several hundred of his works in the major EAA exhibition at Oshkosh in 1987. The original posters of that exhibit, featuring this image were sold for $10 each at that time, and the painting is signed by Hubbell, designer Matty Laird and Pilot Jimmy Doolittle.

The matched pair of the 1912 Caudron and Lathams Antoinette are from Hubbells Thompson studio walls.. The Howard Mike is assumed to have been a gift from Hubbell's protege Joe Jankowski. As far as is known this is the only aircraft painting done by Jankowski because he interrupted his career to enter a seminary. The Hubbell influence and style are unmistakable. The Stearman C3R is a very early dated Hubbell of 1929, since Hubble painted over the date when his paintings didn't sell quickly.

"Charles H. Hubbell", Joe Gertler's Memaerobilia,

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