Hutty, Alfred Heber – American Artist

Alfred Heber Hutty etching, Cabbage Row (Catfish), 1928, edition of 75, signed

p4A ItemID F7963147
Alfred Heber Hutty watercolor, Back Alley, Charleston, South Carolina, signed

p4A ItemID F7963146
Alfred Heber Hutty Etching, signed, Blue Monday

p4A ItemID F7961319
Alfred Heber Hutty Etching & Drypoint, Market Scene

p4A ItemID F7957670

Alfred Heber Hutty

Born in Grand Haven, Michigan, in 1877, Alfred Hutty went to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1919 when he was in his early forties and immediately cabled his wife “Come quickly. Have found heaven.”

Hutty had worked as a stained glass designer in Kansas City and at Tiffany Glass Studios in New York, but he had also begun a long association with the Woodstock, New York, art community and with Lowell Birge Harrison, who was also a mentor of fellow Charleston artist Alice R. H. Smith. Indeed, even after he moved to Charleston, Hutty maintained a studio in Woodstock until his death in 1954.

Beginning in 1919, however, Alfred Hutty limited his Woodstock presence to the summer and wintered in Charleston. His work in Charleston, where he was an art instructor, artist and the only non-Southern leader of the Charleston Renaissance (1915 to 1940), is probably his best known.

In Charleston, Hutty expanded his talents from oils and watercolors, to include painting murals for several public buildings, producing hundreds of pencil drawings and sketches and, most importantly, to drypoint etching. In drypoint, a copper plate serves as a canvas to which an artist directly applies a sharp pointed needle. There is no acid or ground. With some modifications, a drypoint plate produces 50 to 75 copies.

A founding member of the Charleston Etcher’s Club, Hutty’s drypoint subject matter fell into three categories: trees, architecture and the everyday life of Charleston Blacks. Of the three, tourists – and today’s collectors – favored his depictions of Blacks. Hutty pictured Blacks as tourists saw them – picking potatoes, shopping, shooting craps, casting for shrimp, going to church, smoking tobacco and selling flowers.

During Hutty’s Charleston years – 1919 to 1951 – many Blacks spoke Gullah, a Creole form of English that fascinated tourists. Hutty and other artists working to promote tourism in post-Reconstruction Charleston gave tourists something memorable and familiar to take back home.

Auction prices for Hutty’s signed Black-centered drypoints range from $9,000 to $19,000. Hammer price for his trees and architectural work begin at $1,000. Since 2005, his drypoints have experienced a Renaissance of their own.

During his career as an artist he exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (1918), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of the Arts (1923, gold), the Chicago Society of Etchers (1924, medal), the Salmagundi Club (1924, prize), the National Academy of Design, and the American Watercolor Society.

For further information, see Boyd Saunders, Alfred Hutty, Sandlapper Publishing Co., Orangeburg, South Carolina, 1990.

Reference note by p4A.com editors.

Born in Michigan and raised in and around Kansas City, Alfred Hutty began his career as a stained glass artist after earning a scholarship to the St Louis School of Fine Arts at age 15. In 1907 Hutty moved his family to Woodstock, NY to study painting under Lowell Birge Harrison at the summer school of the Art Students League. Working from his “Studio on the Hill” in Woodstock, Hutty painted, etched and completed stained glass commissions for Tiffany Studios.

Upon first visiting Charleston on a return trip from Florida in 1919, Hutty famously wired his wife in Woodstock “Come quickly, have found heaven”. Hutty spent the next 30 years dividing his time between Woodstock and his Tradd Street home in Charleston. He was the first director and a teacher of the School of the Carolina Art Association and a founding member of the Charleston Etchers Club.

Hutty’s work flourished in Charleston. The move breathed new life into his etchings and drypoints and he painted romanticized though accurate views of African Americans and the crumbling buildings of the port city. Among his best work from this period are his views of the residents of the sea islands surrounding Charleston.

Edisto Island to the south was a particular favorite with its agrarian lifestyle set against the Spanish moss-draped live oaks and rich Gullah heritage. “Sunday Afternoon, Edisto Island” is particularly charming with its depiction of the bustling congregation arriving for a service with a sand dune and the Atlantic Ocean glistening in the background. Hutty often illustrated the rivers and marshes but rarely did he incorporate the seashore into his work. Hutty also created a similar scene as a drypoint omitting the ocean.

Reference: Saunders, Boyd and Ann McAden. Alfred Hutty and the Charleston Renaissance. Orangeburg, SC: Sandlapper Publishing Company, 1990. Severens, Martha. The Charleston Renaissance. Spartanburg, SC: Saraland Press, 1998.

Information courtesy of Neal Auction Company, November 2011.

Alfred Hutty worked for Tiffany Studios and lived in Woodstock, New York. He was a leading figure in the Charleston Renaissance group of artists, active between 1915 and 1940, who stirred national interest through their widely distributed illustrations of life in the historic city. He came to Charleston looking for a warm climate in which to spend the winter, and from 1920 to 1924 directed the school of the Carolina Art Association at the Gibbes Art Gallery. He was also one of the founding members of the Charleston Etchers’ Club. He worked primarily in drypoint but also did paintings of non-romanticized scenes such as stooped figures in doorways and buildings in need of repair. In fact, he did a drypoint etching of the tenement on Catfish Row immortalized by DuBose Heyward in his novel “Porgy.” He also did oil paintings of lush gardens and plantation scenes. Hutty came every year to Charleston until his death in 1954 in Woodstock.

Information courtesy of Charlton Hall Galleries, June 2006.


About This Site

Internet Antique Gazette is brought to you by Prices4Antiques.