Charles Ethan Porter
Charles Ethan Porter, an African-American artist was born in 1847 or 1848 in Hartford or Rockville. Although one of eight children, his parents encouraged his artistic talent. In 1857, his father built a home in Rockville where Charles Ethan attended school and graduated from high school in 1865. At age 21, he enrolled in the prestigious National Academy of Design in New York City. He taught art to support himself. His paintings were in a number of the National Academy's Annual Exhibitions. In 1878, he returned to Connecticut and opened a studio in the new Cheney building now known as the Richardson, in Hartford. His unique and beautiful still-life paintings of fruit and of flowers were well received and were acquired by notable people including Frederick Church. With a letter of recommendation from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), he traveled to Europe. Porter was inspired by his Paris experience. In 1889, he moved in with his parents on Fox Hill in Rockville and opened a studio in that town while maintaining a studio in New York City. Although demand for his work declined in the last forty years of his life, today both his still-lifes and landscapes are much sought after and appreciated. Charles Ethan Porter died in 1923 and is buried in the Grove Hill Cemetery in Rockville. He was a charter member of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts.