Charles Ethan Porter

born Hartford, CT 1847-died Rockville, CT 1923
Also known as
  • Charles E. Porter
  • C. E. Porter
  • Charles Ethen Porter
Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Rockville, Connecticut, United States
  • American

Charles Ethan Porter was known for his still-life scenes. He showed talent for art at an early age, but entrenched discrimination against African Americans made it difficult for him to find training. He worked various jobs and taught painting to pay for his education at the National Academy of Design in New York, a predominantly white school. He raised one thousand dollars by auctioning off his work, and with the proceeds traveled to Paris, where racial discrimination was not as prevalent. Porter’s money eventually ran out, but letters show that no less a figure than Mark Twain was sympathetic to his plight and made it possible for him to continue his studies in France. Porter returned to Connecticut, and his skill for painting still lifes enabled him to overcome racial barriers and become a successful artist. (Charles Ethan Porter, 1847?-1923, 1987; Lewis, Art: African American, 1990; Bearden, A History of African-American Artists from 1792 to the Present, 1993)