Charles Bradford Hudson (1865-1939) was a quiet painter. While a number of his artistic comrades on the Monterey Peninsula were gregarious bohemians, he was content to let his art speak for itself. Although Hudson was one of the first residents to adopt the broad palette of Impressionism for his landscapes, his approach reflected his precise, careful, scholarly nature. His paintings often focused on what may be best described as the quiet side of nature, the native flowers and grasses that grew in the sandy soil along the coast. His solidly structured compositions, elegant draftsmanship and exquisitely applied brushwork stand in stark contrast to the dramatic views of the windswept cliffs that many of his contemporaries painted.
Hudson was born in Oil Springs, Ontario, Canada, where his parents lived temporarily, and he grew up in Washington D.C. Hudson’s family had deep roots in America, descending from William Bradford, the Colonial Governor of Massachusetts. Because his father was academically inclined, Hudson was a scholarly boy, fascinated by history, science and art.Because education was important to his family, he took a degree at Washington’s Columbian University before moving to New York, where he studied at the Art Students League under George DeForest Brush (1855-1941), famed for his Indian subjects and with Munich-trained William Merritt Chase (1849-1916).
In 1893, Hudson embarked for Paris, where he enrolled at the Academie Julian. He studied at the private school under William Adophe Bouguereau (1825-1905), one of the great academic masters of the era. Because Hudson was a talented and observant writer, he was able to pay for his art education by serving as a correspondent for the Atlantic, one of America’s premier intellectual publications. By the time he left Europe, Hudson’s work had developed to the point where it would later be included in the International Exposition in Bergen, Norway in 1898 and the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, with his work earning a silver medal in each fair.
When Hudson returned from Europe he began a career in illustration, providing pictures for national magazines and books. Two of the books that he illustrated were The Forging of the Sword and other poems by Juan Lewis in 1892 and A Ranch on the Oxhide. He also continued writing articles for periodicals like Cosmopolitan and the Atlantic.
After the San Francisco Earthquake the entire city had to be rebuilt, and one of the last major structures to be completed was the San Francisco Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Hudson painted some of the large murals that served as the backdrops for the dioramas featuring mounted specimens of the animals of the coast and islands of California. When the academy finally opened in 1916, Hudson’s work was highly praised and remains on display today.
When the Carmel Art Association was formed in 1927, Hudson became a member, and he continued painting into his 60s, even as the artistic elite turned their back on the traditionalist painters. In 1939, the year of the artist’s death, San Francisco hosted the Golden Gate International Exposition. Held twenty-four years after the Panama-Pacific Exposition, this was the San Francisco’s second World’s Fair, and Charles Bradford Hudson’s works were included.
Hudson’s works are rarely on the market, as many remain in the collections of his distinguished family. His artistic oeuvre includes scenes of Monterey, Carmel, Asilimar, the southern California coast an the Mojave Desert, all beautifully painted and subtly colored.
From AskArt/Jeffrey Morseburg 2009