George Peter Alexander Healy

([15 July 1808?] 1813 - 14 June 1894)

American Portrait and historical painter, born in Boston, 1808. Has resided in Europe principally since 1836, practicing his art in Paris and Rome. He returned to America and made his home in Chicago. He won a third-class medal at the Paris Salon in 1840, and a second-class medal in 1855, when he exhibited his "Franklin urging the Claims of the American Colonies before Louis XVI." Among his portraits of eminent men are those of Webster (burned at Marshfield in 1878), Clay, Calhoun, Guyot (in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington), William H. Seward (in the State Library, Albany), and those of several of the ex-Presidents of the United States (in the Capitol at Washington). He sent to the American Centennial Exhibition of 1875 his portraits of E. B. Washburne, Lord Lyons, Thiers, the Princess of Roumania, and several more; and to the Paris Salon of 1878, a portrait of General Grant. Mile. L. Healy sometimes sends his works to the annual exhibitions of the National Academy of Design, of New York, of which he was elected Honorary Academician Member in 1843, and wrote a delightful book: Reminiscences of a Portrait Painter.



"Healy has done good things in historical composition, and forcible things in portraiture. He has much talent, but he is deficient in the language of color." -- Jarves, Art Idea.

"Healy is one of the best American portrait-painters of the French school." -- Mrs. Tytler's Modern Painters.

"Rugged, forcible, and characteristic, the portraits of Healy, when the subject is favorable and the artist in earnest, are among the best of their kind. The vigor of execution apparent in the best works of Healy is not less remarkable than his facility and enterprise; his likenesses often want delicacy, but seldom lack emphasis." -- Tuckerman's Book of the Artists.

Artists of the Nineteenth Century, their Work & Biographical Sketches, Clara Erskine Clement & Laurence Hutton, 1879.

His father was an Irish captain in the merchant marine, and "the Celtic strain ran bright and lovable through the temperament of the son' (Isham). The eldest of five children, Healy, early left fatherless, helped to support his mother. When sixteen years of age he began drawing, and at once fired with the ambition to be an artist. Miss Stuart, daughter of the American painter, aided him in every way, loaned him a Guido's "Ecce Homo", which he copied in colour and sold to a country priest. Later, she introduced him to Sully, by whose advice Healy profited much, and gratefully repaid Sully in the days of the latter's adversity. At eighteen, Healy began painting portraits, and was soon very successful. In 1834, he went to Europe, leaving his mother well provided for, and remained abroad sixteen years during which he studied with Baron Gros, came under the pervading influence of Couture, painted assiduously, and won (1840) a third class medal in the Salon. His "Franklin urging the Claims of the Colonists before Louis XVI" gained him a second-class gold medal at the Paris International Exhibition of 1855. This year, also, saw him in Chicago, where he remained until 1869, when he again visited the Continent, painting steadily, chiefly in Rome and Paris, for twenty-one years. His final return to Chicago was in 1892.

Isham, The History of American Painting, (New York, 1905); Tuckerman, Book of the Artists, New York, 1867); Clement and Hutton, Artists of the XIX Cent., (Boston, 1880); Healy, Reminiscences of a Portrait Painter, (Chicago, 1894); Catholic Encyclopedia, (1913), Volume 7, George Peter Alexander Healy, by Leigh Harrison Hunt.


Going to Europe in 1835, Healy studied under Antoine-Jean Gros in Paris and in Rome. He received a third-class medal in Paris in 1840, and one of the second class in 1855, when he exhibited his "Franklin urging the claims of the American Colonies before Louis XVI."

Among his portraits of eminent men are those of Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John Calhoun, Arnold Henry Guyot, William H. Seward, Louis Philippe, and the presidents of the United States from John Quincy Adams to Ulysses Grant -- this series being painted for the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.. Healy also painted "The Peacemakers" in 1868 and Abraham Lincoln in 1869.

His father was an Irish captain in the merchant marine, and "the Celtic strain ran bright and lovable through the temperament of the son' (Isham). The eldest of five children, Healy, early left fatherless, helped to support his mother. When sixteen years of age he began drawing, and at once fired with the ambition to be an artist. Miss Stuart, daughter of the American painter, aided him in every way, loaned him a Guido's "Ecce Homo", which he copied in colour and sold to a country priest. Later, she introduced him to Sully, by whose advice Healy profited much, and gratefully repaid Sully in the days of the latter's adversity. At eighteen, Healy began painting portraits, and was soon very successful. In 1834, he went to Europe, leaving his mother well provided for, and remained abroad sixteen years during which he studied with Baron Gros, came under the pervading influence of Couture, painted assiduously, and won (1840) a third class medal in the Salon.

His "Franklin urging the Claims of the Colonists before Louis XVI" gained him a second-class gold medal at the Paris International Exhibition of 1855. This year, also, saw him in Chicago, where he remained until 1869, when he again visited the Continent, painting steadily, chiefly in Rome and Paris, for twenty-one years. His final return to Chicago was in 1892. Healy painted more portraits than any other American artist, and of more eminent men than any other artist in the world. Among his principal works are portraits: Lincoln (Corcoran Gallery), Bishop (later Cardinal) McClosky (bishop's residence, Albany), Guizot (1841, in Smithsonian Institution), Audubon (1838, Boston Soc. Nat. Hist.), Comte de Paris (Met. Mus. Of Art, New York), Isaac Thomas Hecker C.S.P., Founder of the Paulist Fathers (North American Paulist Center, Washington, D.C.), Pius IX (1871), Louis Philippe ("his royal patron"), Marshal Soult, Webster, Calhoun, Hawthorne, Prescott, Longfellow, Liszt, Gambetta, Thiers, Lord Lyons, and the Princess (later the queen) of Rumania. In one large historical work, "Webster's Reply to Hayne" (1851), now in Faneuil Hall, Boston, there are one hundred and thirty portraits. Healy was remarkably facile, enterprising, courageous, and industrious. "All my days are spent in my painting room" (Reminiscences). His style, essentially French, was sound, his colour fine, his drawing correct and his management of light and shade excellent. His likenesses, firm in outline, solidly painted, and with later glazings, are emphatic, rugged, and forceful.

Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Healy, George Peter Alexander"; Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.); Cambridge University Press. Hunt, Leigh Harrison (1913); "George Peter Alexander Healy", In Herbermann, Charles; Catholic Encyclopedia, Robert Appleton Company; Wikipedia

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Born at Boston, 15 July, 1808 - died at Chicago, 14 June 1894. -- Artists of the XIX Century.

(July 15, 1813 in Boston - June 24, 1894 in Chicago), -- Wikipedia.

(born July 15, 1813, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. - died June 24, 1894, Chicago, Illinois) -- Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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Healy's portrait of Lincoln was the model used for a Lincoln Postage stamp, issued on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. The second stamp in the Lincoln Birth Sesquicentennial series was of 1-cent denomination and the first-day issuance was held at Hodgenville, Ky., on February 12, 1959. Hodgenville was chosen as the site since it is the nearest post office to Lincoln’s birthplace. A commemorative event had already taken place here when on December 27, 1958, Commission Chairman Cooper, Senator Thruston B. Morton, and Representative Frank Chelf, all of Kentucky, formally presented to Carl Howell, president of the Hodgenville Chamber of Commerce, the Post Office Department’s cancellation die hub, especially prepared for commemorative use at the Hodgenville Post Office during Lincoln Year. The die was inscribed: “Lincoln’s Birthplace, Sesquicentennial, 1809- 1959″

The 1-cent Lincoln stamp features the famous "Beardless Lincoln" portrait by George Peter Alexander Healy, painted from life in 1860 in Springfield, Illinois, shortly after Lincoln's election to the presidency. A facsimile of the signature "A. Lincoln" appears immediately above the portrait. The denomination "1c" is shown in the lower right corner of the stamp, and the wording "United States Postage" is arranged in one line across the bottom of the stamp, in dark Gothic. This second stamp in the commemorative series was arranged vertically, printed in green and measured 0.84 by 1.44 inches in size. The stamp was printed by the rotary process, electric-eye perforated, and issued in panes fifty stamps each. An initial printing of 120 million stamps was authorized. Reference: Postal Bulletin (December 11, 1958)



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