Friday, May 8, 2015

Towards the End: George Henry

George Henry (1858–1943) lived into his mid-eighties, and his career consisted of two stylistic phases with a transition point around the time he was 40. For this post, I'll consider the second phase as "towards the end" even though it lasted for decades. However, Henry (biographical link here) did his most interesting work during the first part of his career as a prominent member of of a Scottish group of painters known as the Glasgow Boys.

Henry's Glasgow Boys phase lasted into the mid-1890s when he and fellow "Boy" E.A. Hornell spent more than a year in Japan. Henry's paintings made there retained many characteristics of his Scottish works. Perhaps because of changing fashions and the need to support himself as an artist, Henry soon thereafter began painting in a more traditional fashion. So whatever modernist traits were used in Glasgow Boys art were largely abandoned and few others were incorporated to even a slight degree thereafter.

Below are examples of Henry's post- Glasgow Boys painting. Dates are included where known, but most seem to have been made between 1900 and 1930.


Through the Woods - 1891
An example of Henry's Glasgow Boys era painting to set the scene -- not one of his better ones, however.

The Tortoiseshell Mirror - 1903
His Glasgow Boys paintings were set out of doors, but now he tries an interior scene.

Lady Margaret Sackville - ca. 1910
Henry also did portrait work to make a living.

The Reading - 1913
An interesting, and not characteristic Henry painting -- though the landscape in the background has his touch (see "Sussex Landscape" below).

Lady in Black - 1919

Brambles - 1920
Here Henry recalls Japan with a kimono-clad British woman. The treatment of the foliage weakly echoes his Glasgow Boys work.

Lady in a Green Dress

Poster art for the London Midlands & Scottish Railway

Sussex landscape - 1930
Henry painted landscapes while a Glasgow Boy. The color schemes were fairly similar to this, but the subject matter was depicted in a more decorative manner.

Lady with Goldfish
I'll guess this was painted around 1910 or 1915, and like it a lot. I think Henry made the woman's face interesting, and the toned-down color scheme is pleasing. It might have been improved by reducing the sharpness of detail for her left hand (it pulls the viewer's eye too far to the right).

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