Clementine Hunter

(1887 – 1988)

      Although no one is sure of the exact date, Clementine Hunter was born in the winter of 1887 on Hidden Hill Plantation in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana near Melrose Plantation where she began her career as a painter and was to work for almost 75 years. Her signature style of simple, naïve paintings depict daily plantation life – picking cotton, Saturday night parties, religious scenes, and her zinnias.

     The three pieces shown here are from the personal collection of Dr. Robert Ryan, Professor Emeritus of Tulane Medical School and published expert on the works of Clementine Hunter. They are among a total of 41 such pieces which she painted over several years beginning in 1981 and according to Dr. Ryan this is their story: During his monthly visits to the hospitals in Alexandria and Pineville, Dr. Ryan went to visit Clementine. It happened that on one such occasion, she had just finished painting around a photo that she had pasted onto a piece of art board. After a rather lengthy discussion, Clementine agreed to sell the piece to Dr. Ryan. Thinking about the piece on his drive back to New Orleans, he decided to glue various photos of Clementine to art board and have her paint around them. On his next trip to visit her, he took two or three such pieces and asked her if she would paint around the photos. Reluctantly agreeing to do so she had him hide the pieces on the top shelf of the closet in the room where she painted. She said that if anyone else saw the pieces she would be buried with requests to do more and she was only doing this as a favor to him. For the next several months Dr. Ryan would bring two or three photos to her with the photos glued to the canvas. On each occasion, she would have him hide them on the top shelf of the closet and take down the two or three she had done since his last visit. Overall, a total of 41 such pieces were done over the next several years. The photos show Clementine working in the fields, painting, etc. over probably a 50 year period. Two of the series have been donated to the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

      Dr. Ryan's article in the Fall 1998 edition of "Raw Vision", Clementine Hunter, Robert F. Ryan MD Shares His Reminiscences of a Unique Folk Artist, is beautifully illustrated with her works and offers a rare personal glimpse into the life of this legendary folk artist.

The following works are shown only to illustrate Clementine's work and for your enjoyment. They are not available for sale.

Click on any image below to enlarge:

Girl with Tall Flowers (1981)
12” x 16”
oil on artist board with
magazine article photo
of Clementine from
Clarion Herald-New Orleans

Girl with Flower Pot (1981)
16” x 12”
oil on artist board with magazine photo of Clementine

3 Zinnias (1981)
16” x 12”
oil on artist board with early photo of Clementine (circa 1940)

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