This sketchbook from 1945 by renowned Louisiana self-taught artist, Clementine Hunter, contains twenty-six previously unseen oil-on-paper sketches. These paintings were the first group of sketches ever made by her, and show a very personal and thoughtful depiction of Creole plantation life in the Cane River area of rural Louisiana. Richard Gasperi purchased the sketchbook from the Henry family of Melrose Plantation in the early 1970s, and instantly felt a deep connection to the work included. He decided to keep the sketchbook for himself, in hopes of one day sharing this uniquely personal side of Clementine Hunter with the world. Clementine Hunter: A Sketchbook is the fulfillment of that hope.
Clementine Hunter was born just two decades after the American Civil War in the Cane River area of Northern Louisiana at Hidden Hill Plantation – rumored to be the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In a life that spanned a century, she bore witness to great change, not only in the larger world around her, but within her own situation. Moving to Melrose Plantation at age 15, Hunter spent most of her young life as a field hand, picking cotton. As her self-taught art was discovered, her work began to sell for thousands of dollars and exhibited in museums. Northwestern State University granted her an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts in 1986.