Confidential Evaluation of Your Charles Chapin

Charles Chapin

Untitled (Hudson River View), Circa 1880

Charles Chapin had studios in Boston, New York City, New Orleans, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Appearing to change locations continually, Charles Chapin had an itinerant career as an illustrator, art teacher and painter of portraits and landscapes in oil and watercolor. 

Charles Chapin painted landscapes that reflect the drama and emotional expression characteristic of 19th-century landscape painting, especially the excitement over natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon and scenes in the Adirondack Mountains. Charles Chapin was also noted for his portrait of Polish actress Helena Modjeska who posed for the artist when she played the role of Mary Queen of Scots.  In New Orleans he did Creole subjects. 

Charles Chapin was a founder of the Lotus Club in New York City, and then headed to California, where he was in San Francisco from 1876 to 1877 and exhibited with the San Francisco Art Association.  After that he went to the southern United States. 

From 1882 to 1885, Charles Chapin was active in New Orleans, listing himself as a portrait and landscape painter and "teacher of painting". (Mahe 73)  In 1882 and 1883, Charles Chapin spent summers in New Orleans, but was there most of the year during 1884 and 1885.

In the 1880sCharles Chapin also painted southern Florida scenes on several winter visits to Florida where he focused primarily on the central and southern Gulf coast including the Everglades.  Many persons, not knowing of his time in Florida, have mistakenly identified the location of those paintings as Louisiana, but they are distinctive from his Louisiana paintings in that the tropical foliage depicted would not grow in Louisiana.  The Florida views date almost exclusively from the 1880's. (Arnold) 

By 1887, Charles Chapin had moved to Los Angeles.  Charles Chapin was an illustrator of Civil War scenes for Harper's Weekly in 1864, and also painted in Arizona.  One work by him of the Grand Canyon is dated 1886 and titled Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.  It is in the collection of the First National Bank of Chicago. 

In December 1888, Charles Chapin disappeared, and in March 1889 a body identified as his was recovered from the North River in the Adirondack region of upstate New York.

Sources include:
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
George Arnold, Arnold Fine Art, Ormond Beach, Florida
John MaheEncyclopaedia of New Orleans Artists


Biography from the Archives of AskART.