Clementine Hunter: Her Life and Art Thursday, Sep 13 2012 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

Clementine Hunter admirer? You will want this book.

Clementine Hunter, lived and painted at Melrose



A Servant Girl Who Became a Famous Artist Wednesday, Apr 4 2012 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

Clementine Hunter  (pronounced Clementeen)

Possibly Louisiana’s most famous artist, Clementine Hunter, was born in 1886 at Hidden Hill Plantation. At the age of fifteen, Clementine and her father moved to the financially successful Melrose Plantation. Melrose had been acquired in 1898 by John and Carmelite (“Miss Cammie”) Henry. Miss Cammie turned Melrose into an artist colony that was a haven where artists and writers came to live and work. Clementine worked in the cotton fields and the pecan orchards.  When she was middle-aged, Miss Cammie brought Clementine into the Big House to cook and clean. Here she met a New Orleans artist, Alberta Kinsey, who inspired Clementine to paint. With no formal training, she produced colorful and from memory paintings. She depicted every day life on Melrose Plantation. In 1939, Francois Mignon arrived at Melrose.  Mignon  began a life-long encouragement and promotion of Clementine Hunter. Today the story of the servant girl who became a famous artist is known around the world.

Clementines’ paintings are:

  • recognized as a narrative of plantation life during the time before grueling labor in the fields was replaced by mechanization. 
  • considered the works of one the most important self-taught American artists of the 20th century.
  • shown at the Smithsonian Institution, The Museum of American Folk Art and countless other museums and private collections around the world.

Clementine Hunter died on January 1, 1988 at the age of 101


  • She was the first African-American artist to have a solo exhibition at the Delgado Museum (now the New Orleans Museum of Art)  achieved a significant amount of success during her lifetime, including 
  • an invitation to the White House from U.S. President Jimmy Carter (which she declined).
  • Radcliffe College included Hunter in its “Black Women Oral History Project, published in 1980.
  • Northwestern State University of Louisiana granted her an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 1986.
One of the more well-known displays of Hunter’s artwork is located in a storage building called “African House” on the grounds of Melrose Plantation. (African House is often referred to as slave quarters, however the building was built for, and always used for storage.) The walls are covered in a mural Hunter painted.
Visit Melrose Plantation and see examples of Clementine’s art, including the murals in the African House.

Clementine Hunter, lived and painted at Melrose

Melrose Plantation Big House

Please take note of change in Melrose Festival dates for 2012.

Sat. April 21 and Sun. April 22, 2012.

Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival Vendor Information. 

Begun in 1941 and chartered as a non-profit organization in 1944, the APHN is a volunteer organization. At present, APHN operates two historic properties: Melrose Plantation and the Lemee House. The organization provides educational opportunities to children and adults through the Children’s Walking Tour of Natchitoches, the Fall Tour of Historic Homes and daily 12pm-4pm (closed on Mondays)  guided tours of Melrose Plantation, which includes the Big House, Yucca House and the African House. 

     Customer Service Information:
Phone: 318-379-0055



Bindery/ Giftshop at Melrose Plantation

Posted by Doyle Bailey for The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

Our preservation of Melrose Plantation and its stories is to make it available to you as a wonder-filled present. Make your plans today for you and your group to visit Melrose Plantation. There is no history more intriguing and no time like the present  for a delightful excursion

Plan a Tour of the Melrose Historic Home and Out-Buildings of the Metoyer “Gens de Colour Libre”.
Miss Cammie Henry’s collection of hand woven pieces.  Visit the Clementine Hunter Murals in the African  House. Enjoy the lovely Gardens Take photos at the almost 400 year old Live Oak Tree. Shop in the Book Store Bindery for books and gift items.

For more information or to schedule a Group Tour please call: 318-379-0055

What Would Clementine Hunter Feel, Think Or Say? Wednesday, Aug 24 2011 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

A confession. I was within 5o miles of the African-American artist Clementine Hunter when I was at Louisiana College and she was living at Melrose. I had never heard of her and did not until coming back to the United States after many years in Costa Rica and Argentina. Another part of my confession. I took “Music and Art Appreciation” in college but I probably would not have “appreciated” the work of simple genius that characterized Clementine’s art work. I would not have been intelligent enough to drive one hour to meet this remarkable person and maybe even purchase one of her works. What an unaware and ill-informed dummy I was!

Clementine Hunter, lived and painted at Melrose

Older now, and hopefully wiser, seven framed prints of Clementine’s work are in my office. More importantly, I recognize that a rather unique and remarkable person lived and “marked” her paintings at Melrose Plantation. I only “know” Clementine Hunter through her work, which was truly “Art From the Heart” (excellent book on Hunter’s work by Kathy Whitehead and Shane W. Evans) and from friends like the late Bobby DeBlieux and Tom Whitehead. Both men were friends with the artist. I remember Bobby’s stories about her and Tom continues to enlighten and inform the preservation community about her. Tom Whitehead is a “Natchitoches Treasure” of information.

Two developments that would likely trigger a reaction to the spunky little lady of Cane River are the following:

1. Forgeries of her work have appeared in recent years and the news on the internet has been jammed with reports of discovery and prosecution of the culprits. They have received ampy news coverage. My question is: what would Clementine think, feel or say about people forging her work and selling it? Would she be surprised, flattered, angry or just puzzled? Anyone who knew her, would you venture a guess by commenting below. If “immitation is the highest form of flattery”, forgery may be one of the crulest distortions of an artist’s work. What do you think?

2.Recently, Richard Rabinowitz, President of the American History Workshop in Brooklyn, New York, visited Melrose Plantation. He is on assignment for the Smithsonian Institute on the subject of African-American history and wanted to see the Clementine Hunter murals at Melrose Plantation. It was my priviledge to join the group as a board member of APHN and a member of the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commisssion. The group included Whitehead , Northwester State University, who conducted the tour of the murals for Mr. Rabinowitz. Also present were Superintendent Laura Gates of the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, Dusty Fuqua, Park Ranger  and Scott Norton, curator of Melrose Plantation. Clementine is reported to have said, in response to an invitation to visit Washington and meet the President of the United States, that he would have to come to Melrose if he wanted to see her. It is unlikely that the artist would be overly excited about the Smithsonian exhibit. Who knows? The rest of us are excited for her. We are also pleased that the remarkable contributions of African-Americans in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana and the Cane River area are increasingly being recognized and reported.


Visit Melrose Plantation and See the Clementine Hunter Murals {Go here for details}

Tom Whitehead, Richard Rabinowitz at Melrose

Melrose Plantation, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana is Like “Time in a Bottle” Tuesday, Dec 21 2010 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches

Of all of Jim Croce’s heartfelt songs, “Time In a Bottle” is the one that touches me at the deepest level.

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN) seeks to preserve the culture, tradition, and stories as well as the physical structures and grounds of the Melrose Plantation in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana.

Like a vintage wine, it is a delight to visit and uncork the Melrose experience. It really is like “time in a bottle”.

Visit Melrose Plantation and  step back  over 200 years in history.




The African House at Melrose Plantation, Natchitoches, Louisiana Monday, Oct 18 2010 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for


The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

The African House at Melrose Plantation

If the African House were the sole structure at the Melrose French Creole Plantation in Natchitoches, Louisiana, it would more than merit a visit. It is one of nine structures you can see on your sightseeing Tour of Melrose.

Francois Mignon relates the following endearing incident:

“It was on a hot day in July in the mid 1950,s that scenes of plantation life in Louisiana began to appear along the walls of the African House. The artist was Clementine Hunter who lived in her cabin on Melrose Plantation“.  


Francois Mignon, a prolific and gifted writer and a member of the artist’s colony at Melrose writes with feeling concerning Clementine Hunter

“Well do I remember when Clementine Hunter…first tried her hand at painting. She tapped at my door, said that she had found these twisted tubes (of paint) while cleaning up and that she believed she could ‘mark a picture on her own…if she sot her mind to it’.”

She presented her first picture to Mignon who replied:

Sister, you don’t know it but this is just the first of a whole lot of pictures you are going to bring me in the years ahead“.

Francois was right and the rest is history.

Buy Online Or At Melrose

Get more information on Touring Melrose.  Go {here) for the APHN website or to purchase your copy of:

ART FROM HER HEART; Folk Artist Clementine Hunter by Kathy Whitehead and Shane W. Evans