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Charles Harold (Howard) Davis

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Charles Harold (Howard) Davis
Late 19th / Early 20th c. Early Modern Painter
American, (1856–1933)
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. In 1877, with the encouragement of his father, he enrolled as a student at the newly formed School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where he studied under Otto Grundmann (1844-1890). In 1880, sponsored by a local businessman so impressed with his work he gave him a thousand dollars to study in France, he studied at the Academie Julian with Jules Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger. He 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 any American." He also exhibited at the Paris Salons, and lived for ten years near Barbizon where he was much influenced by that style of landscape painting. Here he married a French woman, Angele Legarde.

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˜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.

After the death of his first wife, he married Francis Thomas, one of his students, who exhibited regularly at Mystic and also wrote reviews of the local art exhibitions. 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, including 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.

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,
Washington, 1920)
Saltus Medal (National Academy of Design, 1921)

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