Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Hudson was among the leading artists in antebellum New Orleans, and he is one of the earliest documented American painters of African descent. Hudson died at the young age of 33, and scholars are just now beginning to reconstitute his body of work. His oeuvre is largely comprised of portraits of individuals from the thriving community of "gens de couleur libres," or free people of color, who inhabited New Orleans in the years before the Civil War.

Hudson captured the likeness of this young woman shortly after returning from his second trip to Paris, where he is believed to have studied with Abel de Pujol (1785–1861), a student of Jacques-Louis David. Unfortunately, the identity of the sitter is now unknown, and the history of the portrait is fragmentary. The painting traveled from New Orleans to Kansas City, Missouri, in the early 20th century, but the details of its ownership before this period are not known.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Julien Hudson, American (New Orleans 1811 - 1844 New Orleans)
Portrait of a Young Woman in White
Work Type
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2200, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Emergence of Romanticism in Early Nineteenth-Century France
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
73 × 60.3 cm (28 3/4 × 23 3/4 in.)
framed: 96 × 82.5 cm (37 13/16 × 32 1/2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.r., red paint: J. Hudson / 1840
  • label: verso, printed: Hirschl & Adler / The Crown Building / 730 Fifth Avenue / New York, NY 10019 / T 212.535.8810 F 212.772.7237 / Stock No. APG 20934D / Artist: Hudson, Julien (1811-1844) / Title: Portrait of a Young Lady in White / Medium: Oil on canvas / Size: 28 3/4" x 23 3/4" / Date: 1840
Private collection, Kansas City, MO and California, late 1920s to early 1970s, by descent; to their great-niece and nephew, early 1970s to 1979, gift; to private collection, 1979 to 2017, sold [through Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York]; to Harvard Art Museums, 2017
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Richard Norton Memorial Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Publication History

Ethan Lasser, "The Unknown Sitter", Index Magazine ([e-journal], March 15, 2018),, accessed March 16, 2018

Exhibition History

32Q: 2200 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/19/2019 - 01/01/2050

32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/16/2018 - 05/06/2018

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at