CHARLES WEBSTER HAWTHORNE1872-1930
Portrait, genre, and landscape painter Charles Webster Hawthorne was born in Lodi, Illinois in 1872, but grew up in Richmond, a small town near the coast on the Kennebec River in Maine. His father was a sea captain, and Charles developed an early interest in marine subjects and respect for the people who gained their livelihood from the sea. Hawthorne moved to New York in 1890 with the ambition of becoming a painter. He worked during the day at the Lamb stained glass factory and attended classes at night at the Art Students League where he studied with George de Forest Brush, Frank Vincent Dumond, and Siddons Mowbray. He began working with William Merritt Chase in 1896 at the Shinnecock Summer School, living in a fishing shack on the beach and painting out-of-doors. Later he helped Chase to organize his New York school. In 1898 Hawthorne traveled to Holland, where he stayed at Zandvoort near Haarlem, studying the work of Franz Hals and painting the villagers. The following year he went to Provincetown, Massachusetts, and was inspired by the quality of light and the working Portuguese fishing village he found there. toHe went on to establish his Cape Cod School of Art at which he taught the fundamentals of Impressionism and plein air painting. The School helped to establish Provincetown as an art center. Hawthorne also taught at the Art Students League, the National Academy of Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, and other institutions in the U.S. and abroad. He was a highly regarded teacher who was devoted to supporting young artists. Along with technique and mechanics, the painter taught his students the art of seeing: “Anything under the sun is beautiful if you have the vision—it is the seeing of the thing that makes it so.” Hawthorne began painting portraits in the early 1900s. He and his wife spent two years in Italy in 1906-07, traveling to Venice and throughout the south, studying the old masters. He was especially inspired and influenced by Tintoretto and Titian, and returned home determined to apply the nobility and poetry of the masters’ approach to their aristocratic subjects to his ordinary American subjects. The artist made painting trips to Paris and Italy during his career and was elected to full membership in the French Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1913. Late in his life, Hawthorne took up watercolor, creating many watercolor sketches during a summer trip to Europe in 1929. Hawthorne’s paintings were awarded numerous prizes and medals at national and international exhibitions. Museums began collecting Hawthorne’s work while the artist was alive, and his paintings are now represented in major collections across the United States.