Julien Hudson

2016 Sunset Report

OLG & DCRT Strategic Plan
2020-21 through 2024-25


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Paintings Works On Paper Photographs Sculpture


American 1811-1844

Hudson was born in New Orleans to John Thomas Hudson, an English ship chandler and ironmonger, and Suzanne Désirée Marcos, a free quadroon, on January 9, 1811. Hudson's racial identity had been a matter of scrutiny for some years. He is first listed in the city directory (1838) without the designation of free man of color. The following year, "f.m.c." is included. Hudson's father apparently did not live with the family after 1822, but his mother had investments in real estate to provide income. Hudson may have been educated at home on Bienville Street near Bourbon. Julien was known within the family by the nickname "Pickil."

After a two-year apprenticeship to tailor Erasme Logoaster, Hudson began working with the husband and wife team of miniature painters Antonio and Nina Meucci (fl. 1818 - 1830) at their studio on the corner of Royal and St. Peters Streets. This apprenticeship lasted less than six months - the Meuccis left New Orleans for Cuba, and later Bogota, Columbia. In 1829, Hudson's grandmother, Françoise Leclerc, left him at least $100 of a $7,000 estate that included three slaves. Little is know of Hudson's activities until June 1831, when he advertised in the New Orleans Bee that he had undergone a "complete course of studies" with Meucci. Hudson applied for a passport to sail to Liverpool in August, and by December informed readers of the Louisiana Courier that he "lately had returned from Paris." With whom he studied during his first trip is not known.

Hudson traveled again to Paris to study, presumably with neoclassical painter Alexandre-Denis Abel de Pujol (1785-1861), a student of Jacques-Louis David and winner of the Prix de Rome in 1811. Hudson's second trip may have begun in 1835; by August 16, 1837, he was back in New Orleans. Hudson's return was no doubt prompted by the financial Panic of 1837, which began on May 10. It also coincided with the death of his sisters. Hudson maintained a residence at 120 Bienville Street, though he appears in city directories as an artist only in the years 1837-1838. His late works reflect the impact of French academic practice, especially the cool polish of Abel de Pujol's portraits. Hudson had at least one student, George David Coulon (1822 - 1904), for a brief time in 1840. Hudson died in 1844.


Jean Michel Fortier III - Julien Hudson
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Jean Michel Fortier III
Julien Hudson
Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches
Louisiana State Museum, Gift of Marguerite Fortier, 11321

Fortier is depicted as the embodiment of republican virtue, dressed in a simple black jacket and white shirt, embellished only with a cravat. He wears a presumed Masonic pin, indicating his position within the fraternity of merchants and property holders; and holds a musical score, suggesting his support for the New Orleans Opera and other musicians in the city.


So-called Self Portrait - Julien Hudson
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Portrait of a Man, So-called Self Portrait
Julien Hudson
Oil on canvas,
Louisiana State Museum, 07526 B

As Hudson mastered academic practice, he remained tethered to the miniature painting tradition. So-called Self Portrait calls attention to this tension through scale, technique, and including a trompe l'oeil oval frame recalling the setting of a miniature. Minute wisps of paint delineate each hair with rigorous precision of one accustomed to working on a very small scale. However, Hudson's crisp modeling and the unflinching gaze of his sitters imbue his polished, gem-like compositions with an undeniable power and make compelling statements about self perception, identity and social status. The small scale of this painting is surprising.