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Clarence K. Chatterton   Click Images to Enlarge

Clarence K. Chatterton
Social Gathering, Ogunquit Beach
Oil on wooden panel
6 x 8 3/8 in.
Clarence K. Chatterton

(American, 1880-1973)

C.K. Chatterton was a post-impressionist painter who was born in Newburgh, New York September 19, 1880. He studied at the New York School of Art with Robert Henri, Luis Mora, Kenneth Hayes Miller and William Merritt Chase (1900-1904) and became a respected teacher and painter of urban scenes, beaches and figural genres. At the age of 30, he exhibited with Robert Henri (his primary mentor) and other "rebels" at the MacDowell Club in New York and by 1913 he won the Isidor Prize at the Salmagundi Club.

In 1915, he began a 33 year teaching career at Vassar College as artist-in-residence. He established a Department of Applied Art at Vassar and spent the summers painting in Ogunquit, Maine often alongside Charles Woodbury, members of The Eight, Potthast and others (1920-1948). Chatterton’s first one-man exhibition held at Wildenstein Gallery (NYC, 1925) accompanied a showing of Toulouse Lautrec in one room with another room filled with Fragonard and Watteau (and 1927). He also exhibited at the Macbeth Gallery in NYC (one-man exhibitions 1929, 1931, 1934, 1936). In 1936, he was selected to be among the first painters to exhibit at Rockefeller Center and in that year the Brooklyn Museum acquired House on the Cliff for its permanent collection. In 1948, Chatterton retired from Vassar Professor Emeritus of Art.

Chatterton painted frank, fluidly handled vibrantly colorful paintings. He was influenced by Henri's revolutionary statement that a painter should find "the consciousness of beauty in the commonplace," and have an "insistence on sincerity of statement, bold attack, clarity of color" and recognize realistically "the importance of light."

Unlike Henri, Chatterton was somewhat of a recluse and preferred not to socialize or compete but to paint. In 1931, the New York Times stated, "Chatterton must be reckoned among the indigenous – and important – America painters," and critiqued he had "a strong, forthright technique." In 1936, a New York Times' critic labeled an article on Chatterton "Poetry of Realism."

Chatterton was a member of the Salmagundi Club and the Chicago Watercolor Club and he won various awards from both clubs, but he preferred not showing in group exhibitions and remained somewhat a recluse when he was not teaching.

Chatterton was a pioneer in depicting small town America after 1910. Until William Macbeth's death, the artist and dealer got along famously and Macbeth went to Chatterton’s Poughkeepsie studio to select work for solo exhibitions. When Macbeth died in 1948, Chatterton stopped exhibiting. He died in New Platz, NY July 2, 1973.


References: Art and Archeology, May 1917, pp. 289-293, "The Art of Clarence K. Chatterton"; The Art News, 2/21/25, "Chatterton’s Community"; The Arts, March 1925; The American Magazine of Art, June 1925, pp. 308-310, "C.K. Chatterton"; The Arts, April 1927, pp. 169-178, "John Sloan and the Philadelphians; Parnassus 1/32 and 3/32 and 5/3; New York Times, 12/23/31 and 4/12/36; New York Evening Post, 1/2/32; New York American, 2/24/34; Chapellier Gallery, N.Y.C., "C.K. Chatterton," 1965; Watson Forbes, American Painting Today, 1939; Zellman, 300 Years of American Painting, 1986; Preato, Impressionism & Post Impressionism, 1988.