Early success allowed painter Charles Courtney Curran to become a popular and remarkably prolific painter throughout his career. He is often credited with reinvigorating the genre tradition during the late nineteenth century. His figure paintings of beautifully dressed women, in sweeping landscapes were not his only subject matter however, and he frequently painted landscapes, portraits and a popular series of views from his travels including the well known Imperial Temples of Peking series.
Born in 1861, Curran would study briefly at the Cincinnati School of Design before heading to New York City where he attended the National Academy of Design and studied under Walter Satterlee. He would later attend the Art Students League.
It was in New York where he received his first, and very early, recognition at the age of only twenty-three. He had his first exhibit at the National Academy of Design, and five years later was awarded the Third Hallgarten Prize for his painting "A Breezy Day".
This encouraged him to travel abroad for further study, which he did in Paris from 1889 to 1891. At the Academie Julian he studied with Jules Joseph Lefebvre and Benjamin Constant, where many believe his work was permanently influenced by the Impressionists' uses of form and light.
He returned to New York where in 1903 he was invited by artist Frederick Dellenbaugh to visit an area of the Hudson River Valley called Cragsmoor, a popular art center in the region. He would continue to visit the area each year until setting up a permanent studio in 1907.
He would divide his time over the next thirty years between Cragsmoor and New York City, where he taught at the Pratt Institute, Cooper Union and the National Academy. Additionally, while Curran was teaching and painting, he also became a leader of the Cragsmoor Art Colony. For many years, he and his wife edited the student publication the "Palette and Brush". He was also an active member in numerous societies and clubs, including the Allied Artists Association, the National Academy of Design, and the American Water Color Society, among many others.
Curran was a popular artist throughout his long career; he won many awards and much recognition around the world. His works can be seen in collections at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio.
He died in New York City in November of 1942.