Thursday, August 18, 2011

Palmer C. Hayden

Palmer C. Hayden (January 15, 1890 – February 18, 1973) was an American painter who depicted African American life. He painted in both oils and watercolors, and was a prolific artist of his era.
Born on January 15, 1890, Hayden’s original name was Peyton Cole Hedgeman. He was given the name Palmer Hayden by his commanding sergeant during World War I. He grew up in the town of Wide Water, Virginia, and was a so-called self trained artist. Hayden was one of the first in America to depict African subjects in his paintings.

Nous Quatre à Paris, c. 1930 - watercolor and pencil on paper (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
As a young man, Hayden studied at the Cooper Union in New York City and also practiced independent studies at Boothbay Art Colony in Maine. 

Much of Hayden's influences came from the environment around him. He enjoyed painting, and used his time in Paris for inspiration. Over his next five years in Paris, Hayden was very productive, trying to capture elements of Parisian society. On his return to America, Hayden began working for the United States government.
Much of Hayden’s work after Paris focused on the African American experience. He tried to capture rural life as well as urban backgrounds in New York City. Many of these urban paintings were centered in Harlem.


  1. The first painting on this post is actually "Jockey Club" by Archibald Motley, another African American painter active during the Harlem Renaissance.Hayden's "Nous Quatre a Paris" depicts four black men of varying shades around a card table, with two men playing pool in the background. None of the men is wearing a beret or any other headgear.
    Thought you might want to know!

    1. Thanks very much for your comments - much appreciated.
      No, none of the men, but women with beret have their place on The Beret Project just as much!