Esther Anna Hunt Biography

Esther Anna Hunt

American

1875-1951

Biography

Painter Esther Anna Hunt was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, on August 30, 1875. After her father died when Hunt was four, her mother remarried to Captain John A. Frazier. Keen on operating a ranch, he moved the family to Southern California, where he purchased 700 acres and established the town of Carlsbad. The family eventually relocated to Los Angeles and, in 1901, Hunt traveled north to attend the Mark Hopkins Institute in San Francisco to study art. She financed her education by painting scenes and portraits of the residents of Chinatown, primarily featuring children in traditional garb. this proved to be greatly successful for the budding artist, and she gained enough of a following that her work was picked up by a dealer in New York. The success of her sales allowed her to travel to Manhattan in 1905 where she furthered her studies in portraiture at the Art Students League with William Merritt Chase. In 1906 she left for Paris, studying and exhibiting there for the next six years. 

Hunt returned to the states in 1913, first settling in Los Angeles until 1918 when she returned once again to San Francisco. In addition to her continued interest in capturing local Chinese culture, she also traveled further north and met members of the Pomo tribe of Sonoma County, of whom she often portrayed mothers and children in their daily lives. In the late 1920s and early 1930s she lived once more in New York. In each city she lived in she maintained a studio and continued to exhibit, including with the American Watercolor Society (1908); at the Detroit Museum (1909), at the Panama-California Expo, San Diego (gold medal, 1915); the San Francisco Artists' Association, and the Paris Salon. Her career came to an end after a stroke in 1946 and she was sent to a rest home in Orange County, where she lived until her death on March 4, 1951.