Progressive Era to New Era Palmer Hayden

Palmer Hayden

Palmer Hayden was a noted black artist born in Widewater in 1890. Hayden left the family at the age of 16 and went to Washington D.C. where he joined the circus. When not working, he sketched. Circus administrators turned his artwork into advertising posters. After a stint in the Army, Palmer Hayden moved to New York City working as a letter carrier and later as a janitor. When time permitted, he took art classes at Columbia University and Cooper Union. He began painting water scenes at an artist colony in Boothbay, Maine. A painting of a schooner that he entered in a contest won him a first prize of $400 and a gold medal. After studying in Paris for four years, he returned to America and lived in New York. He was the first American artist to include African American artifacts in his work. Palmer Hayden died in 1973 and is recognized as an accomplished painter of the Harlem Renaissance. Most of Hayden’s work hangs in The Museum of African Art in Los Angeles, California.


Marker collage photo by Penny Parrish.
Palmer Hayden historical marker