First Retrospective of Early African American Artist Julien Hudson at Worcester Art Museum

Julien Hudson, 1811−1844 American, Portrait of a Free Man of Color, 1835, oil on canvas, private collection.
Julien Hudson, 1811−1844 American, Portrait of a Free Man of Color, 1835, oil on canvas, private collection.
  • Julien Hudson, 1811-1844 American.  Creole Boy With A Moth, 1835, oil on canvas, courtesy of a private collection; photo courtesy of Fodera Fine Art Conservation, Ltd.

    Julien Hudson, 1811-1844 American. Creole Boy With A Moth, 1835, oil on canvas, courtesy of a private collection; photo courtesy of Fodera Fine Art Conservation, Ltd.

A groundbreaking exhibition opened Dec. 9 at the Worcester Art Museum entitled “In Search of Julien Hudson:  Free Artist of Color in Pre-Civil War New Orleans.” Julien Hudson (1811-1844) is the second-earliest documented portrait painter of African descent to work in the United States. Little-known today, Hudson died an untimely, somewhat mysterious death, and only fragments of his oeuvre survive to tell his story.

This exhibit, organized by William Keyse Rudolph, is the first retrospective of the artist.

Included in the exhibit are the six known paintings by Hudson, one of which may be his self-portrait, as well as work by the painter’s contemporaries. 

Initially a tailor’s apprentice, Hudson dropped that line of work to pursue painting with fashionable miniature portraitist Antonio Meucci.  Later, he studied in Paris with Alexandre Abel de Pujol, before returning to Louisiana to set up his own studio in 1931.

The work of the New Orleans native sheds some light on the “third caste” that existed in that city, a group known as gens de colour libre, or free people of color, who had a legal and social status that positioned them between the enslaved and free whites.

This exhibit is in part supported by a NEA grant, as well as by the Worcester Art Museum and The Historic New Orleans Collection, and will run through March 11, 2012, in Worcester, Mass.

(Report: Christine Bolli for ARTFIXdaily)

More News Feed Headlines

King Tutankhamun mask at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Beard Glued Back on Damaged King Tut Mask

  • January 22, 2015 21:40

The blue and gold braided beard on the burial mask of famed pharaoh Tutankhamun was hastily glued back on with

Read More

Detail from Lucas Cranach the Elder's 1530 paintings "Adam" and "Eve."

Legal Case Continues Over Contested 'Adam and Eve' Masterpieces

  • January 22, 2015 20:02

The Supreme Court will allow the ownership case of two Nazi-looted Renaissance masterpieces to go to trial in a longstanding battle between the heir of a noted Jewish art dealer and the Norton Simon Museum.

Read More

Looted antiquities on display Wed.  at the National Roman Museum.

$58 Million in Looted Antiquities Discovered by Authorities

  • January 22, 2015 10:43

Warehouses owned by a Basel-based art dealer and his wife have yielded a haul of $58 million worth of looted antiquities, say Italian authorities.

Read More

43 works from the collection of the late Rachel "Bunny" Mellon sold for $158.7 million at Sotheby's in November 2014.

New Buyers Help Drive Auctions to Record Sales

  • January 20, 2015 16:13

Christie’s International PLC said Tuesday it sold $8.4 billion of fine and decorative art last year, up 17% from the year before and a record

Read More

Related Press Releases

Related Events from ArtfixDaily Calendar

ArtfixDaily Artwire