Charles Harold Davis was born in 1856 in Amesbury, Massachusetts. His interest in art began early on in his life and with added inspiration to pursue artistic training after attending an exhibit of French Barbizon painting in Boston. Shortly after, Davis enrolled in the Museum School at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where he studied under Otto Grundmann (1844-1890). In 1881, Davis went to Paris for further study and remained there for nearly a decade.
During the artist’s years in France, he studied at the Academie Julian and painted landscapes of the French countryside, in particular Barbizon and Normandy. While in France, Davis exhibited at the Paris Salon and at the Paris Exposition, receiving recognition at both venues. Meanwhile, he enhanced his reputation in here by sending works home for exhibition in New York and Boston.
Davis returned to the United States in 1890 and settled in Mystic, Connecticut, where he resided for the rest of his career. “Davis chose Mystic for its picturesque hills and forests, which reminded him of the Barbizon, and because of its central location on the train line between his Boston and New York galleries” (Colville). In Connecticut, Davis’s landscapes became lighter and more experimental shifting from tonal Barbizon to a more Impressionist style. Around 1895, Davis’s thematic focus became the sky, specifically cloudscapes for which he would become well-known. In these richly colored, sun-filled paintings of the Connecticut countryside like Clearing Off from 1925, Davis depicts low horizons and big skies filled with dancing clouds casting shadows across the landscape.
A leading figure of the Mystic Art Colony, Davis also founded the Mystic Art Association in 1913. Other artist’s who followed Davis’s to Mystic included David Walkley and John Joseph Enneking. A successful painter who received much critical acclaim during his lifetime, Davis had one-man shows at William Macbeth’s gallery in New York and at Doll and Richards in Boston, and his works were exhibited around the country in major national and international exhibitions.
Thomas Colville, Charles H. Davis: Painter of Poetic Moods, Antiques Magazine (November 1995), 677.