Hugh M. Poe was an American portrait painter based mostly in Indiana. Born in Dallas, Texas to Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Maclean Poe. At the age of four, Poe and his family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he would later receive his initial art training in the R.L. Mason School of Art. Following that time, he received a scholarship to John Herron Art Institute where he enrolled in 1919 and went on to receive five years of training under William Forsyth. Poe was also a member of Charles W. Hawthorne’s summer class at the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
After schooling, the artist shared a studio in downtown Indianapolis at the Circle Building with Clement Trucksess. At age twenty-three, he began work on a commission at the Culver Military Academy. After being discovered for his portrait work at the Hoosier Salon by a General L.R. Gignilliat, the young artist was approved by the board of directors to paint 64 portraits of Culver men who lost their lives in the world war. The life-sized heads were primarily done in pastel and were all framed separately. While he was still working on the portraits, twenty completed ones were displayed at the Hoosier Salon and when finished, all would later become part of the collection in the new Memorial Building at Culver.
Poe exhibited not only at the Hoosier Salon, but also at the East Tennessee Division Fair alongside his studio partner Trucksess, William Forsyth, friend and fellow student R. L. Selfridge, and Ralph Britt.
Poe displayed a diverse body of work in a multitude of mediums: oil, pastel, charcoal, watercolor, sculpture, and pen & ink.
His many awards included: multiple prizes at the Chicago Hoosier Salon; Art Association Prize for portrait in oil at Herron Art Institute; best work by a man under 25 award given by Culver Military Academy; and the Holcomb Prize for his life-sized portrait of R.L. Selfridge.
His painting "Herman and Verman" (1924), depicting two characters from Indiana novelist Booth Tarkington's trilogy of Penrod stories, is in the collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields in Indianapolis.