Charles Courtney Curran


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(American, New York/Paris, 1861 - 1942)

An Impressionist figure, genre, and landscape painter, Charles Curran is known as a prolific artist who created light-filled paintings, often of young women.  Curran was born in 1861, in Hartford, Kentucky, but in 1881 moved to Sandusky, Ohio.  After studying one year at the Cincinnati School of Design, he began a distinguished career when he moved to New York City in 1882 and enrolled in the National Academy of Design.  There he studied under Walter Satterlee.  At age 23, he had his first public exhibition at the Academy and won numerous prizes from that time onward.  Five years later he received the Academy's Third Hallgarten Prize for A Breezy Day, which was considered the most "meritorious painting in oil". 

Following his training at the National Academy, he became a student at the Art Students' League.  He then studied at the Academie Julian in Paris from 1889 to 1891.  The French artist Jules Bastien-Lepage was a source of inspiration for Curran with his paintings of peasants as a common subject matter.  From 1887 to 1935, he exhibited regularly at the Pennsylvania Academy.

In 1903, artist Frederick Dellenbaugh invited Curran to Cragsmoor, an art center in the Hudson River Valley near Ellenville, New York.  In 1910, Curran moved into a house there and established a studio. At this time, he turned to the themes and Impressionist style that would occupy most of the remaining 30 years of his life: young women in bright sunlight.  His female subjects are often elegantly dressed, posed, and feminine, with uncomplicated and dreamy gazes.  Curran later included flowered backgrounds in his paintings, a theme to last the remainder of his career.  He occasionally painted portraits and landscapes, as well as a series of views of the Imperial Temples of Peking.

Curran was a leader of the Cragsmoor Art Colony, and often taught art and painting. He was a member of the American Watercolor Society, the National Arts Club, the Salmagundi Club, and the Society of American Artists.  His works can be seen in collections at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio. He died in 1942.


Selected Exhibition History 1883-1942:

Museums and Arts Organizations

Albright Art Gallery (1906-1912), Buffalo, New York (now Albright-Knox Museum)

Allied Artists of America, New York (after 1914)

Art Institute of Chicago (1897-1903, 1905-07, 1910-16, 1919)

Art Students League, New York

Arts Club of Washington, Washington DC (1921)

Boston Art Club (1893, 1895-96) 1898-1900)

Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh

City Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri (now Saint Louis Art Museum)

Durand-Ruel Gallery, Paris (1891)

Lotos Club, New York (annual member exhibition)

National Academy of Design, New York (1883-1900, 1900-42, posthumously 1943)

National Arts Club, New York (annual member exhibition, four-person show, 1922)

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia (1887-88, 1892-1903, 1917-18, 1921-22, 1924-28, 1935)

Salmagundi Club, New York (annual member exhibition 1899, 1900-43)

Salons, Paris (1889, 1890, and 1891)

Society of American Artists, New York (1894-1900, 1904, 1906, 1933)

Society of Washington Artists, Washington, DC (1905)

Expositions and World Fairs

World’s Colombian Exposition, Chicago (1893, medal)

Cotton States and International Exposition, Atlanta (1895, medal)

Tennessee Centennial and International Exhibition, Nashville (1897)

Universal Exposition, Paris (1900, honorable mention)

Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York (1901, medal)

Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Saint Louis (1904, medal)

Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco (1915)

State fairs – including Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and Texas

New York World’s Fair (1939-40)

Organizations and Memberships

In New York City: National Academy of Design, Society of American Artists, Allied Artists of America, National Arts Club, American Watercolor Society, MacDowell Society, Lotos Club of New York (life member), New York Fencers Club (life member), Salmagundi Club

In Cragsmoor, New York: Cragsmoor Improvement Society, Cragsmoor Free Church, Cragsmoor Free Library, and Barnstormers Theatre