Henry Inman (1801-1846)

Henry Inman died of asthma and its complications at the age of 45. He was at the height of his career as a New York portrait artist and as the recent recipient of one of four coveted commissions to adorn the Capitol Rotunda with an historic painting.  He did not live long enough to create the masterpiece he planned, but in his portraits, he left an undeniably fine legacy. One of the earliest artworks attributed to him is from 1822 – a delectable watercolor and pencil miniature of his mentor and later partner, John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840).  Inman’s apprentice, Thomas Seir Cummings (1804-1894), became his partner as well. They attracted clients with a portrait package: Inman painted a full-size likeness; Cummings, a miniature. In between these New York ventures, Inman lived in Philadelphia where he copied Charles Bird King’s paintings of Native Americans, which Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall printed as lithographs to illustrate History of the Indian Tribes of North America.  Inman visited England in the 1840s in hopes of regaining his health.  He died in New York City on January 17, 1846. He left a widow and four children, one of whom was artist John O’Brien Inman (1828-1896).  Some examples of Inman’s legacy follow.

Henry Inman, Portrait of a Lady, c 1825 Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts, 1996.562

Henry Inman, Portrait of a Lady, c 1825
Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts, 1996.562

Henry Inman, Portrait of a Lady, c 1827, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003.520

Henry Inman, Portrait of a Lady, c 1827
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003.520

Henry Inman, Thomas Sully, 1837 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Henry Inman, Thomas Sully, 1837
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Henry Inman, Martin Van Buren, 1837-1838 Metropolitan Museum of Art 93.19.2

Henry Inman, Martin Van Buren, 1837-1838
Metropolitan Museum of Art 93.19.2

Perhaps the best is at the White House, the portrait of Abigail Singleton Van Buren.  (Zoomable image)

Biography at National Academy Museum.

 

 

About Patricia Moss

Patricia Moss is an art historian, or art detective if you will, who solves mysteries of 19th century American portraits. She located nearly 70 of Bingham’s lost portraits, a feat acknowledged by the Smithsonian’s Research and Scholar’s Center. From expertise with portraits of George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879), she developed skills that evolved into a comprehensive system based on the scientific method that conforms to the legal and ethical standards of art authentication. Moss served as a guest curator for the Bingham Bicentennial Exhibit, “Steamboats to Steam Engines: George Caleb Bingham’s Missouri: 1819-1879,” (March 10-September 8, 2011) at the Truman Presidential Museum and curated the opening exhibition, “George Caleb Bingham: Witness to History,” (September 2013 –), Jackson County Art Museum, Independence, Missouri. She is also the principal researcher for Fine Art Investigations.
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