Edan Milton Hughes

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Edan Milton Hughes
Born (1935-06-04)June 4, 1935
Maysville, Kentucky
Died April 21, 2015(2015-04-21) (aged 79)
San Francisco
Nationality American
Occupation Art Dealer

Edan Milton Hughes (1935—2015) was an American art dealer and collector of California art. He wrote the definitive work on California artists.


Edan Milton Hughes was born June 4, 1935 in Maysville, Kentucky. He attended the University of Kentucky, where his studies were interrupted by the Korean war. The Navy first brought him to San Francisco as a young man, where he remained till his death.

During the period of the 60s and 70s in San Francisco he lived in the Haight-Ashbury section of the city, which was the center of the youthful counterculture of the 1960s spreading across the city and the country. There he rubbed shoulders with Janis Joplin, and other colorful characters of the period.

Hughes enjoyed playing bridge, and going to the Opera. He was not married and had no children, but enjoyed a vast group of friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. He died in San Francisco on April 21, 2015.[1]


Hughes first settled in San Francisco when the Navy brought him there after the war. He was an avid dancer, and found work as a dance instructor, and as a hair stylist in some of the principal San Francisco hotels.

He sometimes worked as an assistant to rock promoter Bill Graham and met many of the main rock groups and personalities of the time, including members of the Rolling Stones, Creedence, Carlos Santana, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and the Mamas and the Papas.

He also worked in real estate for several years, an activity which brought him into contact with some of the fine art from the state of California which started a lifelong passion. At the time, there was little interest in such art, and he was able to procure many canvases from some of the best artists, unrecognized at the time, for a pittance. This formed the basis of what became a vast collection of California art. His apartment was covered chock-a-block with California paintings, with many others stacked up with wall space left to show it.

His interest as a collector, along with an increasing recognition of the value of California art, combined to turn Hughes into an art dealer of California art of the first order. He also published his monumental reference work "Artists in California, 1786-1940" in 1986 with biographies of over 20,000 California artists,[2] and this work along with Hughes' collection and dealership helped bring California art to the notice of the art world. The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento took an interest, and helped organize and publish revised editions of the work, which is universally recognized as the definitive work in its field.[1]


Hughes is the author of Artists in California, 1786-1940 (1986). The first edition was published in 1986, and received so many follow up inquiries that he decided to produce a second edition with double the amount of content.[3] The third edition[4] is a biographical dictionary which contains information on over 20,000 Californian artists.

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  1. ^ a b "Edan Hughes 1935-2015". legacy.com. San Francisco Chronicle. May 1, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-04. 
  2. ^ Ellis, Casey (October 28, 2001). "A Passion for Painting / Edan Hughes is the premier collector of California art before 1940, but more importantly he's written the bible on the subject, soon to be in its third edition". SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2013-06-15. Retrieved 2015-09-04. Although Hughes is a seller as well as a collector, his greatest renown in the art world comes from his remarkable book: Artists in California 1786-1940, a biographical dictionary of the 'painters, sculptors, etchers, commercial artists, illustrators, lithographers, engravers, watercolorists, muralists, pastelists and teachers' who made contributions to the rich cornucopia of early California art. 'Anybody at all involved with California art knows Edan's book,' says Scott A. Shields, curator of art for Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum. 
  3. ^ Ellis, Casey. "A Passion for Painting / Edan Hughes is the premier collector of California art before 1940, but more importantly he's written the bible on the subject, soon to be in its third edition". Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  4. ^ Hughes, Edan Milton (2002). Artists in California, 1786-1940. Crocker Art Museum. OCLC 77497974. 

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