Unlike his female counterparts, Hutty rarely idealized the city and its residents, choosing instead to show the decay and decrepitude that lay around him. His proficiency with drypoint—an enhancement of the etching technique, which created rich, inky lines—complemented his rendering of live oaks draped with Spanish moss, dilapidated old buildings, and animated African Americans.
Artist. Hutty was born in Grand Haven, Michigan, on September 16, 1877. He grew up in Kansas and at age fifteen won a scholarship to the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. He supported himself by working in a stained glass studio in St. Louis until 1907. He then moved east to attend the summer school of the Art Students League in Woodstock, New York, where the tonalist landscape painter Birge Harrison became his mentor. Hutty obtained a position with the Tiffany Glass Studios, working on commission while living in Woodstock.
In 1919, in pursuit of a warmer place to spend winters, Hutty discovered Charleston, and until three years before his death, he alternated residences between Woodstock in the summer and Charleston in the winter. From 1920 until 1924 he served as the first director of the School of the Carolina Art Association at the Gibbes Art Gallery. In 1923 he became one of the founding members of the Charleston Etchers’ Club. His oil paintings of Charleston streetscapes and lowcountry gardens are impressionistic, a stylistic approach ideally suited to the floral splendor of spring foliage. However, he earned greater fame for his etchings and drypoints. In 1929 the noted art connoisseur and collector Duncan Phillips wrote a small monograph on Hutty. The volume was the second in a series on American etchers and reflects the burgeoning national interest in prints. Phillips discussed Hutty’s considerable talent with rendering trees of all kinds, and equated some of his Charleston prints to the work of DuBose Heyward. As a seasonal resident of Charleston from the 1920s through the 1940s, Hutty is closely identified with the Charleston Renaissance.
Unlike the other leading figures–Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, and Anna Heyward Taylor–Hutty was not a native South Carolinian, and he was the only man making art full-time. He aggressively marketed his work, mounting annual exhibitions at the newly opened Fort Sumter Hotel, hoping to appeal to the growing number of tourists. Unlike his female counterparts, Hutty rarely idealized the city and its residents, choosing instead to show the decay and decrepitude that lay around him. His proficiency with drypoint–an enhancement of the etching technique, which created rich, inky lines–complemented his rendering of live oaks draped with Spanish moss, dilapidated old buildings, and animated African Americans. Hutty maintained his press in the old kitchen house of his property at 46 Tradd Street, and from time to time he took on students. He was also active in the local theater group, the Footlight Players. The Gibbes Museum of Art owns the largest public collection of his work, the gift of his widow. His estate and archive, including plates and many trial proofs of his etchings, belong to Carolina Fine Paintings and Prints, Charleston. Other repositories of his work include the Columbia Museum of Art, the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, and the Boston Public Library. Hutty died on June 17, 1954, in Woodstock.
Phillips, Duncan. American Etchers. Vol. 2, Alfred Hutty. New York: T. Spencer Hutson, 1929.
Saunders, Boyd, and Ann McAden. Alfred Hutty and the Charleston Renaissance. Orangeburg, S.C.: Sandlapper, 1990.