A Brief Biography
Charles Walter Stetson, landscape, portrait and mural
painter and etcher, was born March 25, 1858 in Tiverton Four Corners, Rhode
Island. In 1869 the Stetson family settled in Providence. Self-taught as
an artist-there being no possibility of training in art in Providence at
that time-by 1872 Stetson had begun to color. By 1878, when he opened his
first studio in Providence at the age of twenty, Stetson had followed his
early Ruskinian landscapes by a broader, coloristic technique. His paintings
were accepted into exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy and Boston Art
Club, attracting the praise of prominent artists and critics of the time.
In the early 1880s, Stetson became attracted to Venetian old masters, which
he encountered in New York, having seen nothing in art except reproductions
until this time. Around 1882 Stetson taught himself etching and learned
both French and German. It was in this year as well that Stetson was to
have his first one-man exhibition at the Providence Art Club, of which he
was one of the founding members. 1882 was also the year in which Stetson
married Charlotte Anna Perkins, who, in later years, was to distinguish
herself as an author and feminist lecturer. In 1885 their daughter, Katharine
Beecher Stetson, was born. The artist made his first trip to southern California
in 1888 and made his home there with his wife and daughter until 1890, when
he returned to New England to be with his mother during her last illness.
In 1892 he divorced Charlotte and in 1894 he and her first cousin, the poet
Grace Ellery Channing, married. In that year Stetson and Grace moved to
Pasadena, California and resided there until 1901. Stetson made his first
visit to Europe in 1897, where he visited Holland, Belgium, France, Germany,
England and Italy; upon his return to Boston, his health broke down. From
1901 to 1911, Stetson made his home in Rome; during 1909-10 his summers
were spent at Viareggio and Capri. Deafness and illness kept him isolated
from fellow artists, except for the American painter Elihu Vedder, by whom
he was befriended. Stetson most frequently worked as a landscapist and figure
painter and watercolorist, particularly concentrating on imaginative themes.
In Rome he was invited to the Venice Biennale, in 1904 to the Rome International,
and again in 1911 to the Rome International. He died in Rome on July 21,
1911 owing to the aftereffects of an operation. In 1912 there was a Memorial
Exhibition of his work shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; similar
Memorial Exhibitions were shown at the Detroit Museum of Art in 1913 and
at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, in 1914. Several works in this Catalog
bear the labels from these Exhibitions. "After the Bath", one
of his last works, was recently acquired by the National Museum of American
Art, Washington, D.C.
Channing-Stetson, Grace Ellery (text). Detroit Museum of Art, Memorial Exhibition, 1913.
Eldredge, C. C., American Imagination and Symbolist Painting. New York, 1979.
Eldredge, C. C., Charles Walter Stetson: Color and Fantasy. Lawrence, KS, 1982.
Gerdts, William H., Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting. 3 volumes. NY, 1990.
Hill, M. A. (ed). Endure: The Diaries of Charles Walter Stetson. Philadelphia, 1985.
Knight, Denise D. (ed). The Diaries of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. 2 volumes. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994.
Moure, Nancy Dustin Wall, Loners, Mavericks and Dreamers: Art in Los Angeles Before 1900. Laguna Beach, CA,1993.
Soria, R., Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century American Artists
in Italy: 1760-1914. NJ, 1982.
Stetson Works Available: Continue to next page
Charles Walter Stetson: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6
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