Clementine Hunter's First Oil Painting.
History and documentation of an important work of folk art.
Information provided by Whitfield Jack, Jr., grandson of the original owner.



  Look Magazine June 16, 1953
Clementine Hunter in her cabin with her documented first oil painting, "Bowl of Zinnias". This photograph was taken by noted photographer, Clarence John Laughlin, in the early 1950's. Another photograph by Clarence Laughlin of Clementine with "Bowl of Zinnias" is shown in the frontispiece of Shelby R. Gilley's authoritative book on the life and works of Clementine Hunter:

 Shelby R. Gilley, "Painting by Heart -- The Life and Art of Clementine Hunter, Louisiana Folk Artist" St. Emma Press, Baton Rouge 2000. Frontispiece.

Click for enlarged view of photograph
Biographical sketch

Important new book on Clementine Hunter's
African House Murals



In the photograph above, which appeared in Look Magazine, June 16, 1953, Clementine Hunter is shown in her cabin on Melrose Plantation with her first oil painting, "Bowl of Zinnias" (on the table to her left). This work, the first of Clementine's early "secret paintings", predated even the window-shade painting referred to by Francois Mignon in his writings.

This important historical painting is now part of a private collection and was previously owned by Whitfield Jack, grandson of Blythe White Rand of Alexandria, Louisiana, who was a fellow weaver, horticulturist, and friend of Mrs. Cammie Henry, owner of Melrose, dating back to the mid 1930's. Mrs. Rand along with the artist, Alberta Kinsey, provided the "bowl" (actually a beaten copper pitcher) of zinnias and the oil paints used by Clementine for her first oil painting.

The painting was given by Clementine to Mrs. Rand and remained in her possession from the time it was painted c.1939 until 1952. At that time, at the urging of world-renowned photographer, Clarence John Laughlin (who was engaged at that time by the Library of Congress to do a pictorial history of Louisiana architecture), the painting was exhibited in the Saturday Gallery in St. Louis, Missouri. The program for this exhibit is included in the documentation. The work was not sold and was returned by Clementine to Mrs. Rand. (The painting, Milking Time", shown in the photograph above at Clementine's feet, is also owned by Mr. Jack's family and was also exhibited in the Saturday Gallery exhibition).

"Bowl of Zinnias" was most recently shown in September 1997 at the Addison Ripley Gallery Exhibit in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. Prior to that it was exhibited at the Saturday Gallery, Saint Louis, Missouri, November 17 - December 22, 1952.

Clementine Hunter's First Oil Painting
"Bowl of Zinnias" c.1939
Oil on corrugated board
20-1/2 inches x 16-3/4 inches

This painting is now in the private collection of an anonymous owner.
It is a copyrighted work of art and many not be reproduced in any form.
See notice below.

Close up views of painting

Dating paintings by signature

Click to see the seven paintings by Clementine Hunter
that are in the permanent collection of the
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture


Read about the Secret Paintings of Clementine Hunter
The link below will lead you to the story of the first of the early oil paintings that were done prior to the famous window-shade painting commonly assumed to be Clementine's first work -- paintings that were acknowledged by Francois himself as "the secret paintings" of Clementine Hunter. Included is a full documentation of Clementine Hunter's historically significant first work in oils,
"The Bowl of Zinnias"

Secrets Index
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

Links to website of fellow artists, travelers, and kindred spirits
Click Here

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by the Cane River Art Corporation and will be enforced.

All materials on this website, including all text , images, and in particular, reproduction rights to the Clementine Hunter painting, "Bowl of Zinnias", are the property of the Cane River Art Corporation. If you see unauthorized use elsewhere of any materials on this website, please be so kind as to bring it to our attention. Replies will be kept in confidence. Violations of Federal Copyrights are punishable by fines up to $50,000 per infraction.

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