Eustis Estate

Davis – country landscape

Charles H. Davis in a photograph taken by his daughter Angela G. Davis, 1914, photo: Macbeth Gallery Records, c. 1890–1964, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

In the late 1910s, Charles H. Davis upset many people by abandoning his popular cloudscape paintings. His wife Frances Davis recalled: “He became the ‘Cloud Painter’ and ‘Davis Skies’ were demanded on all sides. The cloud pictures took prizes—were sold as soon as exhibited and the dealers were always asking for ‘more.’ Then Charles cried ‘halt’ and ceased to paint them except when the urge was so great that he could not resist…. The dealers rebelled, friends remonstrated, almost everyone misunderstood, but he knew he was right and no one, no argument, could move him…. When he felt prompted to paint a subject which would not sell, he never let that fact keep him from it.”

Charles H. Davis created “cloudscapes” in various tonalities to capture the variety of New England’s ever-shifting weather. Here are two further examples of his fascination with moving clouds.

Charles H. Davis (1856–1933), Clouds after Storm, 1900, oil on canvas, 15 x 18 1/8 in., Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Estate of Miss Elizabeth Bartol, 1927.213
Charles H. Davis, 1856-1933, Change of Wind, c. 1900, Oil on canvas; 50 1/8 x 60 1/8 in., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Charles H. Davis, 1943.328


The French Barbizon paintings that Charles H. Davis first admired in Boston in 1874, when he was just eighteen, often featured cloud-flecked skies. A longtime practitioner and influential champion of the Barbizon aesthetic was the much older Boston artist William Morris Hunt, who painted this atmospheric scene of a coastal Massachusetts sky in 1877. In 1879, a memorial exhibition of Hunt’s art became the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s first “blockbuster.”

William Morris Hunt (1824–1879), Twilight at Magnolia, 1877, oil on canvas, 20 7/8 x 30 7/8 in., private collection, courtesy Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.