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 Charles Louis Hinton  (1869 - 1950)

About: Charles Louis Hinton
 

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Lived/Active: New York / England/France      Known for: commemorative medal design, sculpture, murals

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Charles Louis Hinton
from Auction House Records.
A Bacchante
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information, submitted September 2004, is from Lynn Ericson, granddaughter of the artist. Most of her information comes from a brochure published by a curator of an art school museum which featured several of his works.

Charles Louis Hinton (1869-1950) had a career that was a lifelong adventure and traversed continents and inspired the creation of myriad works of art representing various styles and media. Hinton was born to English parents in Ithaca, N.Y. in 1869. His father, Louis Joshua Hinton, was an established stone carver, preferential toward European tradition. Hinton moved to London and remained there with his family until 1886, when they returned to Albany, N.Y.

Although Hinton received his early education abroad, his immersion into the visual arts and development as an artist took place primarily in the U.S. His father's trade afforded Hinton opportunities to gain invaluable experience. While an apprentice to a local stone carver, Hinton was selected to carve the baptistry doors of Albany's All Saints Cathedral, the interior of which was decorated by Hinton's father.

Having exhibited competence in both drawing and stone carving, Hinton assisted his father in designing and decorating much of the State Capitol at Albany, carving one of the friezes, Columbus with His Three Caravels. The excellence of the work attracted the attention of a World's Fair Board commissioner, who consequently offered the young artist a commission to model in clay a statue of Hendrick Hudson for the Columbian Exposition's New York building. On the advice of friends, Hinton (1889) applied and was admitted to New York City's National Academy of Design.

After completing his studies and winning the Academy's Havermeyer award, Hinton spent the following year studying in Paris. He began his training at the Academie Julian, the training ground for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. The Academy stressed the importance of drawing the human figure from nude models. Hinton soon passed the entrance requirements to study at the Ecole. Due to financial constraints, this extraordinary experience was short lived. However, the exposure to teacher Jean-Leon Gerome (French 1824-1904) with his enthusiasm for classical figural subjects and the importance of refined draftsmanship began to define Hinton's subsequent career.

Upon his return to the U.S. , Hinton earned his steady income from contributing to numerous publications and illustrating several books. In 1901, Hinton had garnered such a reputation that he was invited to teach at his alma mater, the National Academy. During this engagement, Hinton was again acquainted with his former mentor and instructor, Will Hicok Low, with whom he shared a studio (1901 - 1911). Each artist appealed to the community with their statues of idealized nudes and sensuous drapery, and Renaissance-style paintings. Hinton remained at the Academy from 1901 to 1948, at which time he retired after an eight year appointment as the school's Dean.

Hinton also accepted professorships at Cooper Union School of Art (1912-1932) and NYU (1924-1929). During his tenor at the Academy, Hinton and his family resided in Bronxville, N.Y., which earned a reputation as an artists' community. It was not uncommon for Bronxville artists to explore the gamut of art forms to insure interest in their work and increase their individual marketability. Hinton branched out to designing and sculpting commemorative medallions. The most celebrated memorialized Charles Lindbergh's historic trans-Atlantic flight. Represented in bronze, Hinton created a life-size bust of Lindbergh on one side and the Spirit of St Louis approaching Paris on the reverse side.

This accomplishment led to the U.S. Government's commission of two medals commemorating the lives of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, currently preserved in the vast collection of art at the Smithsonian Institute. In 1940, Hinton resolved to take his teaching acumen and publish a work entitled Artistic Anatomy, a textbook for drawing the human figure. This endeavor was still in progress at the time of his death in 1950.

Hinton belonged to numerous professional organizations - National Society of Mural Painters, Architectural League of N.Y., National Sculpture Society and Century Association.

A quote from my grandfather - 1923 "Once in a great while we, through study of art, catch a glimpse of that Heavenly Fire - then a work is born that is worth while. In spite of all our efforts and hard work, we soon realize, however, that Art is elusive, to say the least and that it is impossible for one to put his finger on it and say, 'At last I have it!' Perhaps this partly what intrigues the mind and makes us willing to try to work still harder, that the glimpses of the divine fire may be more frequent."



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