Can you love an artist you never met? City of Newburgh Historian Mary McTamaney professed a love for Clarence K. Chatterton (1880-1973) before the unveiling of one of his paintings at Washington’s Headquarters.
The historic site looked its best on Feb. 10 — the snow-covered lawn providing a sharp contrast to the blue of the Hudson River. Inside the museum, twenty people gathered to welcome the new acquisition, a gift from Mr. Chatterton’s granddaughters.
An 1898 graduate of Newburgh Free Academy, C.K. Chatterton studied art in New York City before opening a second floor studio in his home town. During a brief program on Feb. 10, Ms. McTamaney showed an early 20th century portrait of the artist. He was a dapper looking young man, but that’s not what prompted her affection.
What she liked is that he captured Newburgh (its waterfront, its building tops, its market place), the way her grandparents must have seen it. In 1909, he created the gouache painting of the Hasbrouck House, which his granddaughters gave to the museum.
General Washington stayed in the house during the latter days of the Revolutionary War. But in the early 20th century (when the artist was at work), the estate surrounding the building was a park rather than an historic site. It was a place where Newburgh residents would go to relax and enjoy the scenery.
In 1915, Mr. Chatterton started teaching at Vassar College, where he remained for 33 years — although some members of the school questioned whether art should be part of a college curriculum. He continued to live in Newburgh for most of his time at Vassar, and commuted to work every day on the ferry.
Paul Gould, who was at the acquisition ceremony, remembered meeting C.K. Chatterton on several occasions at the Bethlehem Art Gallery in Cornwall.
Washington’s Headquarters is open during the winter from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. On Presidents Weekend, however, it will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday through Monday. As you pay for admission, the Chatterton painting will be on your right.