Henry Bacon

American, 1839 - 1912
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.
Henry Bacon, born in 1839, was a figure painter of the expatriate genre. He was one of the first Americans to be admitted to a Paris school, Ecole des Beaux-Arts. There he was schooled in the conservative French tradition of the late 19th century. Bacon enlisted in the Civil War and served as a field artist for "Leslie's Weekly". After the war, he perfected his techniques in watercolor using oblique angles and cropping effects. He popularized the perspective scenes on decks of passenger ships, which he observed during his frequent travels. Bacon was highly acclaimed for his watercolors. By 1895 he began to experiment with pure washes without opaque body color in figures. Henry Bacon died in 1912 in Cairo, Egypt.

Biography courtesy of The Caldwell Gallery, www.antiquesandfineart.com/caldwell
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