Henry Bacon (1839-1912)

American

A well-traveled artist, painter Henry Bacon is best known for his watercolor depictions of life on the French coast of Normandie. He is also noted for his varied figure paintings composed at the locales of London, Italy, Ceylon, Greece and Egypt.

Bacon did not start with a brush in hand. Born in Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1839, history records him as U.S. army soldier during the civil war. On the battlefields he fashioned his first known artistry, doing sketches for Leslie’s Weekly. Wounded seriously in the war, Bacon left the military and America, journeying with his wife Lizzie to Paris in 1864.

One of the first Americans admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, he was instructed by Alexander Cabanel and, later, by Edouard Frere. Taught in the conservative French academic tradition to work with oils, he soon began to experiment with cropping effects, oblique angles and unusual compositions. He followed this with his advanced explorations with watercolors. Added to his preferred inclination to paint detailed human subjects involved with their environs, Bacon helped to popularize the idea of the shipboard subject. These images were favored within his exhibitions in Paris salons and New York city’s National Academy of Design.

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