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In Search of Julien Hudson:
Free Artist of Color in Pre-Civil War New Orleans

December 9, 2011 - May 27, 2012

This exhibition is the first retrospective of Julien Hudson (1811−1844), the second-earliest documented painter of African descent in the United States and the first securely known native Louisiana artist. The son of a mixed-race mother and white British father, Hudson was born into freedom. Before the Civil War, communities of free people of color, or gens de couleur libres, flourished in several cities, including Baltimore, Charleston, and especially New Orleans—which was home to the largest such population in the United States.

Hudson's untimely, mysterious death at age 33 brought his enigmatic career to an end; only a small body of work survives, and it is brought together here for the first time. The exhibition also features works by Hudson's European and American instructors, colleagues, and competitors, including examples by other free artists of color—who, like Hudson, made indelible impressions upon the art and history of New Orleans.

Exhibition catalogue available in The Museum Shop

Audio tour available

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Interviews and special Julien Hudson programming on WICN 90.5

Select Images from the Exhibition

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In Search of Julien Hudson: Free Artist of Color in Pre-Civil War New Orleans is organized by the Worcester Art Museum and The Historic New Orleans Collection. The exhibition is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Related programming is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.