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Revered in his era, with great success on both sides of the Atlantic, painter Charles H. Davis is the most defining figure in Mystic Museum of Art’s history, as founder of the art colony that led to formation of the Mystic Art Association, now Mystic Museum of Art. Beginning September 28, the Museum began displaying Davis’s painting The Clearing, which comes as a bequest from the late Margaret Howe Kitchings and will be seen as a stand alone exhibition in the central gallery that bears Davis’s name through November 11.
The Clearing, dating from c. 1915, is a vibrant example of Davis’s mid-career style, when he began to reject the Tonalist style, which characterized his early works, for a brightened palette influenced by Impressionism. Additionally, it was during this time period which he began to place heavy emphasis on a bright, cloud filled sky in his works. He was so well known for this trait that this type of sky became known as a “Davis sky.”
A native of Amesbury, Massachusetts, Davis received early support from poet John Greenleaf Whittier to travel abroad and study art in France. After a decade there, he relocated to Mystic, Connecticut, seeking a waterfront place with stonewalls and rocky topography. In his own day, Davis’s work was widely esteemed. In 2013, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, exhibited a major retrospective of Davis’s work, curated to “restore his stature” in the “pantheon” of the great American landscape painters. For more information about Davis, the Mystic Art Colony, and the founding of Mystic Museum of Art please click here.