When Clementine Hunter was a girl, she moved with her family to Melrose Plantation, near Natchitoches, Louisiana. She was always good with her hands: making quilts, dolls, clothes, baskets, and hand-tied lace. The matriarch of the family who owned Melrose while Hunter lived there transformed it into an artists’ colony, and Hunter’s exposure to the artists who resided there led her to apply her talents to painting.
In this colorful rendition of Melrose, Hunter did not limit herself to depicting the main house, choosing also to include two examples of more modest buildings. The structure at the bottom left of the painting, known as African House for the structure of its roof, was where Hunter completed her largest works: nine mural paintings that have recently been conserved.