Charles Hawthorne Information and Inventory

Charles Hawthorne

(1872 - 1930)

Charles Hawthorne


“Mudhead”—hardly the most elegant term applicable to the work of one of America’s greatest teachers and painters of figures, yet that’s what his legions of adoring students called his dynamic outdoor demonstration paintings. To show light, shadow, mass and other lessons, Hawthorne would pose his subject and render broad areas with brush and palette knife, choosing to ignore most, if not all, facial details, simply applying a generic skin tone to the general area of the face… thus the term “mud- head.” I was fortunate enough to obtain this quintessential mudhead around 1969, when my friend, the Cape Ann artist Wayne Morrell  obtained four such examples and allowed me to acquire this piece from him. Several years later, C. W. Post University held an ambitious exhibition on Impressionism and it had all the greats: Hassam, Robinson, Twachtman, et al.; yet the very favorable review in the New York Times selected a mudhead to reproduce in the article. I was quite pleased with all this until a few weeks later I was told that the organizer of the exhibition was indicted by police for a bunch of illegal things. I believe he did jail time. Wow, I thought, the art world has a dark side to it. My second example was, quite simply, a love affair. When I saw this at Hirschl and Adler in 1982, I totally fell in love with everything about it: the cinnabar red background, the almost pearlescent skin tones, hand gestures, and profile and the magnificent white dress. The sitter, identified as Miss Wilson, appears in other figural works by the artist. At the time I stepped up to this, it was clearly the most I had ever paid for a painting, an accolade that I’m sure pleased H&A more than me; but I have never regretted it, and have never seen a female figure work I like better.

Charles Hawthorne Gallery

No paintings by this author