Henry Peters Gray

(23 June 1819 - 12 November 1877)





American portrait and genre painter, was born in New York. He was a student of Daniel Huntington there, and subsequently studied in Rome and Florence. Elected a member of the the National Academy of Design in 1842, he succeeded Huntington as president in 1870, holding the position until 1871. The later years of his life were devoted to portrait work. He was strongly influenced by the old Italian masters, painting in mellow colour with a classical tendency. One of his notable canvases was an allegorical composition called "The Birth of our Flag" (1875). He died in New York City.



He was educated in the public schools of the city, and soon displayed a passion for art, his early efforts with slate and pencil, and subsequent work with pencil and brush, showing much power and originality. He was admitted to the studio of Daniel Huntington in 1838, and so rapid was his progress that the next year, by the advice of his celebrated master, he went to Europe to continue his studies. His industry while abroad was remarkable, and his progress rapid. On his return in 1843 he produced in his New York studio several paintings of every-day life, as well as historical studies. He made a second trip to Europe in 1846, where he worked on some of his characteristic creations, evolved in the course of his study in the galleries of the continent. He brought home with him "Cupid Begging his Arrows," "Proserpine and Bacchus," and "Teaching a Child to Pray." He established himself in New York city, and took his place as one of the acknowledged masters in his profession. His pictures being widely known, new creations from his brush were looked for and welcomed, and seldom were the public disappointed, save when he, in his innovations on the accepted rules of conventional art, stepped outside, and made his brush record a beauty or preserve a shade never before given a place on canvas. In 1869 he was elected president of the National academy of design. This office he held acceptably for two years. He went to Florence in 1871, remaining until 1874. Here he studied the old Venetian masters, especially Titian, and thus largely developed his love for classical subjects. His latter years were devoted to portraiture, and he left over 350 portraits. Among the most famous examples of his art are:
"Wages of War,"
"Hagar and the Angel,"
"Cleopatra,"
"St. Christopher,"
"Charity,"
"Genevieve,"
"Portia and Bassanio,"
"J. Piore de Fiesole,"
"The Model from Cadore,"
"The Immortality of the Soul,"
"The Birth of our Flag,"
"Twilight Musings,"
"Greek Lovers,"
"Normandy Girl,"
"Pride of the Village," and
"Apple of Discord." This last picture was exhibited at the Centeimial exposition at Philadelphia in 1876, and was specially commended by the art judges. Mr. Gray died in New York city Nov. 13, 1877.

The National Cyclopædia of American biography, Derby, George; White, James Terry, (1893)

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1. Asher Brown Durand, Henry Kirke Brown, Henry Peters Gray



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