Grace Carpenter Hudson belongs in the story of the McNab Shepherd. Alexander McNab used local dogs to breed with his Scotch Collies he brought from Scotland ultimately creating the McNab Shepherd. The local dog breed has never been definitively identified. Through her artwork, Hudson may have painted the answer to this mystery.
The Pomo Indian tribe hold their canine companions in high regard. In Many of Hudson’s works documenting the Pomo people, black and white dogs that strongly resemble the Scotch Collie and McNab Shepherd are represented, usually with children. Grace Carpenter Hudson was a contributor to the “Overland Monthly.” Her pen and ink drawings were featured in the Overland Monthly article by Lulu McNab “A Collie in Mendocino” as well as the work of her photographer father, A. O. Carpenter. Lulu McNab was the wife of Arthur V. McNab, Alexander’s son. Lulu was 24-years old when she authored "A Collie in Mendocino."
Did Grace Hudson Draw Alexander McNab? Stephanie Finds Answers to the Mystery.
Over the last few years a myth developed and perpetuated on social media that drawings by Grace Carpenter Hudson featured in Lulu McNab's article in the Overland Monthly actually represent Alexander McNab, his dogs, and a relative of Myrtle Brown. Unfortunately this has become more commonplace on the Internet and social media to make up the facts to fit better with someone’s agenda. To get the truth, I contacted the Grace Hudson Museum, and here is the response from one of the Curators:
“Hello, Stephanie. Grace Hudson kept a small notebook in which she listed illustrations she submitted to various publications circa 1892-1895. She has an entry for Lulu McNab's article in which she lists five illustrations–all of which appear in McNab's final printed article. I'll list them below as Grace Hudson entered them, with the final captions as they appeared in the Overland Monthly article, and the page on which they appear. "Wash" refers to the medium of a thinned down ink or watercolor; "pen & ink" is self-explanatory. In the printed article her washes are unsigned, and the pen & inks have a "G Hudson" signature:
Long Haired Collie (wash) – ["Collie Types," pg. 483]
Young Things (wash) – ("Young Things," pg. 485]
Short Haired Collie (wash) – ['"Clyde,"–Short-Haried Collie,' pg. 487]
Shepherd & Dog (pen & ink) – ["The Shepherd," pg. 481]
Holdies, the sheep (pen & ink) – [No caption, pg. 488]
As you can see, she did not include a name for the model of the shepherd. He may have been a real person, or she might have made him up, or a combination of the two. I did look through our boxes of her unframed drawings and saw no preparatory or final sketch for that particular illustration.
Karen Holmes, Curator
Grace Hudson Museum & Sun House
(Click to Expand)
Grace Carpenter Hudson (1865-1937) was born to well-educated pioneer parents in Potter Valley, California, some 130 miles north of San Francisco in rural Mendocino County. She showed an early talent for drawing that was developed by professional training in San Francisco in the early 1880s at the San Francisco School of Design, where she excelled in portraiture.
After a brief failed marriage to William T. Davis, a real estate and money broker, she returned to her parents' home in Ukiah, Mendocino County, where she gave painting lessons and helped out in her parents' photography studio. In 1890 she married again, this time to John Hudson, a physician for the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad that had its terminus in the town.
With John's encouragement she began painting the local Pomo Indian peoples whom she had known since a child. Her 1891 portrait of a sleeping Pomo baby, entitled "National Thorn," was the first in her series of numbered oil paintings, that grew to over 680 works by the time of her death in 1937.
Hudson's reputation as an Indian painter was national during her lifetime. While nearly all her portraits were of Pomo peoples, she is also known for the 26 canvases of Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiian natives she painted during a year's sojourn in the Hawaiian Islands in 1901, as well as sketches she produced of Pawnee Indians in Oklahoma Territory, circa 1903-04. Though she worked primarily in oils, she also produced lovely watercolors, pen and ink illustrations, and charcoal, pencil, and crayon drawings. Today her work enjoys renewed interest and recognition for its fine and sympathetic portrayals of native peoples.
Below is the work of Grace Carpenter Hudson. Her work painting the Pomo Indian Tribe, and their dogs, is displayed in The Smithsonian Museum. McNabs may have been hiding in plain sight all these years!