Born: Cincinnati, Ohio 1865
Died: New York City 1929
Very important international teacher of the “Ashcan School,” painter
Henri’s origins are not clear. Allegedly, Henri’s father was John Jackson Cozad, forced to flee Nebraska and renamed Richard H. Lee, calling Henri “Son of the Gamblin’ Man.” The standard biography, places Henri native to Ohio, the son of John Henri, educated in Cincinnati, Denver, and New York schools. He was the pupil of Eakins and Hovenden at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts 1886-88. From 1888 to 1891 he was the pupil of Bouguereau and Robert-Fleury at the Julien Academy in Paris. He also sought independent development through travel in Europe. In 1891, he returned to Philadelphia as instructor at the Women’s School of Design, becoming the center of the realist group including Sloan, Glackens, Luks, and Shinn. From 1896 to 1900, he was back in Paris, teaching a class and selling a painting to the French museum. He then established his studio in New York City, teaching at the Valtin school, the Chase school, the Henri school, the Ferrar school, and the Art Students League. As a teacher, he emphasized visual honesty, the quality of being true to one’s self. As a painter in 1929, he was regarded as one of the three most important living American artists, with portraits “under three headings, graceful young women, frolicking children, and foreign types.” His life-span was from the end of the Civil War to the end of Hoover’s prosperity.
None of the standard reference mentions the Western experiences. Henri visited San Diego in 1914, painting Indian portraits. He spent the summer of 1916 in Santa Fe, painting a total of about 30 portraits then, in 1917, and in 1922: “I was not interest in these people to mourn that we have destroyed the Indian. I am only seeking to capture what I have discovered in a few of the people.” Henri’s value to the West was mainly in his prestige that caused hi friends and students to follow him to New Mexico. The “Ashcan School” was urban, not Indian, and pueblo poverty was not personal to the painters.
Resource: SAMUELS’ Encyclopedia of ARTISTS of THE AMERICAN WEST,
Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1985, Castle Publishing