Clementine Hunter

Clementine Hunter (pronounced Clementeen) (late Dec. 1886 or early Jan. 1887 – January 1, 1988); self-taught black folk artist from the Cane River region of the US state of Louisiana, who lived and worked on Melrose Plantation. She is the first African-American artist to have a solo exhibition at the present-day New Orleans Museum of Art.

Hunter was born into a Louisiana Creole family at Hidden Hill Plantation, near Cloutierville, in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana; she started working as a farm laborer when young, never learning to read or write. In her fifties, she began painting, using brushes and paints left by an artist who visited Melrose Plantation, where she then lived and worked. Hunter's artwork depicted plantation life in the early 20th century, documenting a bygone era. She sold her first paintings for as little as 25 cents. By the end of her life, Hunter's work was being exhibited in museums and sold by dealers for thousands of dollars. Hunter was granted an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by Northwestern State University of Louisiana in 1986. In 2013, director Robert Wilson presented a new opera about her: Zinnias: the Life of Clementine Hunter, at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

Born about 1886, two decades after the end of the American Civil War, Hunter's grandparents were enslaved.

...At the age of 15, Hunter moved to Melrose Plantation south of Natchitoches. She spent much of her life picking cotton and attended school for only 10 days, never learning to read or write....

...She produced between four and five thousand paintings in her lifetime.

Hunter has become one of the most well-known self-taught artists, often referred to as the black Grandma Moses. Painting from memory, she is credited as an important social and cultural historian for her documentation of plantation life in the early 20th century.... Many of her paintings had similar subjects, but each one is unique....
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First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


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