Works in the Collection
Charles Ethan Porter was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1847. Though he grew up in poverty, he was one of the first African Americans to study at the National Academy of Design. He had several successful exhibitions at the American Society of Painters in New York and National Academy of Design, after which he returned to Hartford to open his own studio. The Hartford Daily Times praised his work in a review that drew significant attention, including that of Mark Twain, who was also living in Hartford at the time. Impressed with the artist and his work, Twain provided Porter with the financial support to travel abroad with letters of introduction from him in hand.
Porter studied at École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and was introduced to both the Barbizon school and Impressionism. Upon his return to the United States in 1885, Porter briefly opened a studio in New York, but later returned to Hartford. In 1889, he moved to Rockville, Connecticut and joined the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts. Porter’s career was continually challenged by racism, and by the end of his life, he faced near obscurity. He died in 1923. Today, Porter’s work is getting more and more of the attention and praise it deserves, and it can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, Lyman Allyn Art Museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and the Connecticut Historical Society.