Akron Art Museum Archives
Charles H. Davis
(Amesbury, Massachusetts, 1856 - 1933, Mystic, Connecticut)
Charles Harold Davis was working at a carriage factory when an exhibition of works by Barbizon School painter Jean-François Millet inspired him to take classes at the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and, from 1880 to 1881, at the Académie Julian in Paris. Davis spent the next decade in France, frequently travelling to the Fountainebleau Forest village of Barbizon to paint moody, romantic landscapes like the ones that had inspired him to become a painter. Davis enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic during this period, showing at the Paris Salon, the National Academy of Design and the Society of American Artists in New York, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Davis returned to the United States in 1890 and settled in the seaport town of Mystic, Connecticut, where, inspired by the quality of light and atmosphere particular to the New England coast, he began adopting some of the techniques of impressionism. Davis is best known for his “cloudscapes,” in which the majority of the canvas is given over to a study of the colors and textures of the clouds. Davis was active in the growing artist colony in Mystic and founded the Mystic Art Association in 1913. He received numerous awards during his lifetime, including a silver medal at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, a silver medal at the 1905 Universal Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri and a gold medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, California. His work is widely represented in museums nationwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Massachusetts.