Hutchens, Frank Townsend

SKU: AUT3304


Frank Townsend Hutchens (1869-1937) was a American artist who studied painting in Paris and in New York with artists who also taught at the Art Students League. He traveled extensively in Europe, North Africa, New England, and the American West, and the paintings he produced while on his sojourns.  Autograph Slip Writing Signed, 04/10/1907 -  4 1/2 x 2 1/2  written in blik ink with global rich browning and a slight lower horizontal crease overall, fine condition.  

Frank Townsend Hutchens was born in Canandaigua in 1869. He was one of four children of H.L. and Dora Hutchens. Little is known about his childhood, except that he must have liked drawing. Since he isn’t here to gainsay me, we’ll surmise that he developed a fascination with the ripples of wind across the lake and the intricate shadow interplay of clouds, hills and water that graced his hometown. It’s probable that he gained some instruction under Academy art instructor Lucy B. Stowe. But there’s no question that his facility with pen and ink, crayon and watercolor was developed early and to a great degree. 

By 1886, at the age of 17, Hutchens exhibited some of his watercolors and crayon portraits in the windows of local bookstores, alongside the crayon portraits of his contemporaries, the Crandalls. Hutchens was an active and versatile participant in county fair exhibitions, displaying crayons, watercolors, and India inks. Where he truly differed from the Crandalls was in his determination to build a life through his art. The Crandalls paid their tavern bills with their haunting watercolors. The ambitious Hutchens eventually developed an outstanding international reputation, supporting a prolific and peripatetic life completely through the magic he could spin onto his canvases. 

Unquestionably talented, he nurtured his talent by questing far and wide for the best instruction. As a young man, he studied at the Art Students League in New York City and at the Academie Colorossi and Academie Julien in Paris. Throughout his life, he journeyed to new locations, places like St. Tropez, Taos, New Mexico, the New England Coast, the river valleys of France, North Africa and the Netherlands to study new stylistic influences and to capture unique landscapes and light. And often, he returned to Canandaigua to paint and exhibit. In 1892, following his first stint in Paris, he opened a studio in Foster Block. In 1893, he received an important commission for black and white watercolor illustrations of a New York publishing house’s special edition of “Ben Hur”. 

His paintings earned exhibitions at New York’s National Academy of Design, the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Art Institute of Chicago, Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute and the Amsterdam International Exhibition as well as the Paris Salon. They were seen at McKechnie’s Bookstore in downtown Canandaigua, too. 

We are happy to have had several of his works in the atrium tonight. These belong to the Canandaigua Collection, owned by the City of Canandaigua and the Ontario County Historical Society. We thank the City and Historical Society for permission to display them this evening. 

A truly influential American artist, in recent years, the paintings of Frank Townsend Hutchens have enjoyed increased attention in the art dealer world. For an example of the interest level Hutchens’ work now commands, consider this excerpt describing a 1996 auction in New Hampshire: "The standout work of art here was a 40 inches x 44 inches oil on canvas painting by Frank Townsend Hutchens, Lady in White with Poppies, discovered stored in an attic in a packing case. [It carried] a fair estimate of $4000/6000, but it was fresh, clean, appeared to be in its original frame, and the dealers loved it. It went to a phone bidder at $43,700, which is four times the previous highest Hutchens price in our records and appears to be a new auction record."