Charles Cromwell Ingham

(1796 or 1797 - 10 December 1863)




Born in Dublin, Ireland, and studied art in his native city, and received a premium, from the Dublin Academy, for an oil-picture representing "The Death of Cleopatra." He came to America in 1816, and was one of the original members of the National Academy of Design in 1826. He was frequently on its council, and was Vice-President for many years. He was also one of the originators of the old "Sketch Club." Among his prominent works may be mentioned, "Girl Laughing," "Flower-Girl," and "White Plume," besides many portraits noticeable for delicacy and beauty of finish. He was particularly happy in his portraits of women and children.

Artists of the Nineteenth Century & their Works, Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, 1879.n>

Charles Cromwell Ingham was an Irish portrait painter and later founder of the New York National Academy of Design during the 19th century. Ingham was a descendant of a man who went to Ireland as an officer in Cromwell's army (hence his middle name). He was born in Dublin in 1796 or 1797, studying art from 1809 to 1813 at The Dublin Institution with William Cuming before immigrating to the United States in 1816 or 1817. Settling in New York City, he distinguished himself by his oil painting, but also in watercolor on ivory, a standard medium for miniature portraits since the 18th century. His work in oil is marked by a high finish achieved by successive glazings.

Ingham occupied a front rank with his brother as a portrait painter known for his paintings of young women of New York's upper class, painting over 200 portraits between 1826 and 1845, such as those including portraits as Flower Girl (1846), Day Dream, and Portrait of a Child. Later founding the National Academy of Design, he would serve as its vice president for a number of years until his death in New York on 10 December 1863, at the age of 67.

William Dunlap, History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States, 1834); en.Wikiipedia;

Mrs. Thomas Ingham 1837



INGHAM, Charles Cromwell, a portrait painter, was born at Dublin in 1796. After studying for four years at the Dublin Academy, he went to the United States in 1817, and soon stood in the first rank as a portrait painter. He was a founder of the National Academy of Design, and for many years its vice-president. Besides a great number of portraits of the reigning beauties of New York, his 'Death of Cleopatra,' which first brought him into notice, 'Flower Girl,' 'Day Dream,' and 'Portrait of a Child' may be cited as good examples of his style. He died at New York in 1863.

Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, 1876 - Reprinted, 1894, 1899.

American painter of Irish birth. He was trained in Dublin, and his early work was in the style of Sir Martin Archer Shee. He arrived in New York in 1816 and became a leading figure in its artistic and social circles. Ingham was particularly successful with his flattering portraits of fashionable women and completed over 200 such works between 1826 and 1845. A meticulous draughtsman, Ingham developed a technically advanced style, building up layers of glazes and varnishes to create a glossy surface. Such portraits as Fidelia Marshall (Washington, DC, N. Mus. Amer. A.) demonstrate Ingham's careful attention to the rendering of textures and details of dress. Several of his better-known works, including "Flower Girl" (1846; New York, Met.), carry allegorical overtones. Although his reputation rested on his portraits of women and children, Ingham painted a considerable number of men as well.

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A portrait specialist, he also produced genre scenes and occasional landscapes. Much admired for the delicacy of his highly finished surfaces, for the sensuous luster he imparted to skin tones, and for colorful articulation of decorative accessories, particularly flowers, he was in great demand for portraits of women. Contemporaries often found competitor Henry Inman's somewhat broader and more insightful approach more satisfying for male subjects. Rarely including much consideration of individual character, Ingham's virtuoso performances suggest sweetness beyond reproach. An ambitious work, "Amelia Palmer" (Metropolitan Museum, 1830) offers a poetic idyll. Situating its full-length pre-adolescent subject within a landscape, it pictures a gracefully posed, delicate girl who carries a broad-brimmed hat spilling with flowers as she pauses within a lush natural setting. Ingham's best known painting, the sentimental but sexually charged "Flower Girl" (Metropolitan Museum, 1846) prettifies a lower-class subject, while ambiguously entertaining questions about her psychology, her social role, and the reactions she might have provoked from her viewers. Born and trained as an artist in Dublin, Ingham moved permanently to New York in 1816, already in command of a securely professional technique that hints at firsthand knowledge of the contemporary, more decorative phase of French neoclassical portraiture. An active participant in New York's art life, Ingham numbered among founders and active participants in the National Academy of Design and the Sketch Club, precursor to the prestigious Century Club. In 1837, while accompanying the New York State geologist on a survey trip, he produced some of the earliest landscape images of the Adirondack area.

The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists


Charles C. Ingham, portrait painter, was born in Dublin in 1797. Having studied art, probably in the schools of the Royal Dublin Society, he removed to the United States in 1817, and with his brother occupied a front rank as a portrait painter. He was the founder of the National Academy, and was for many years its Vice-President. Drake says: "Besides a great number of portraits of the reigning beauties of his day in New York, his 'Flower Girl,' 'Day Dream,' and 'Portrait of a Child,' are good specimens of his style and manner." He died in New York, 10th December 1863, aged about 67.

Biographical Dictionary -- American Biography: Francis S. Drake. Boston, 1876.

Charles Ingham was born in Dublin in 1796, where he became a pupil of William Cumming, a portrait painter known for his likenesses of female subjects. Following four years of study with Cumming, Ingham adopted his master's specialty. Thus, when he left Ireland and moved to New York in 1816, he soon became known as that city's premier "ladies' painter." The highly finished style he employed throughout his career -- one requiring numerous lengthy sittings -- was thought to be particularly appropriate for depictions of women; men, it was said, were too busy to submit to his laborious process of repeated layers of glazing. In general, his portraits (some of which, despite the typing of his work along lines of gender, were of men) were warm in coloring and noticeably painstaking in draftsmanship. He also produced miniatures and an occasional landscape and history painting.

In New York, Ingham was extremely active in artists' organizations. Initially a member of the American Academy of Fine Arts, he became a founder of the National Academy of Design when it arose in opposition to the older body in 1826. Although already a professional artist, he enrolled as a student in the antique school during the first season of the new organization; years later he returned for additional study in its life school (1844-1845). His involvement with and support of the National Academy -- often as an officer -- was unflagging, except for a period during the 1850s, when his views on expanding the membership conflicted with the majority. Ingham was of the opinion that limits should be maintained on the number of artist-members, so as to make the group more exclusive. When his view was not upheld, he went so far as to bring suit against the Academy, greatly offending his fellow artists. Such headstrong actions were said to be characteristic of the impulsive painter.

Ingham was also described, however, as eminently sociable. He was a founder, for example, of the Sketch Club (serving as its first president) and of the Century Association. His contacts extended beyond New York, for he exhibited sporadically in Philadelphia, Washington, Albany, and Brooklyn as well. Boston was another city which knew his work; he spent the winter of 1842-1843 there. In addition, Ingham developed an amateur's interest in architecture. At least one of his projects -- a grandiose stairway for the National Academy -- was executed, and he published an architectural essay, "Public Monuments to Great Men," in 1858. During the final years of his life, however, he suffered from ill health, which prompted him to scale back many of these activities. He died in New York City in 1863.

© Copyright Ownership: National Gallery of Art, Washington

Charles Cromwell Ingham was a precocious youth who, at the age of thirteen, began studying drawing at the Royal Dublin Society. He subsequently received instruction from the portraitist William Cumming and commenced his career as an artist. In 1816 he joined his parents when they moved to New York City. Ingham immdiately established himself as a portraitist and began to exhibit his works at the American Academy of Fine Arts. He quickly established his reputation as one of New York's leading portraitists and was especially renowned for his portraits of women and children. Although Ingham originally maintained close ties with the American Academy of Fine Arts, he abandoned his affiliation shortly after he became a founding member of the National Academy of Design in 1826. During the following years Ingham proved himself a dedicated member of the Academy: he frequently served on the Academy's council and "committee of arrangements" for Annual Exhibitions, and from 1846 to 1850 he served as its vice-president. In 1850, however, Ingham became firmly opposed to an alteration in the Academy's constitution which was designed to remove all restrictions on the election of new academicians. When his opposition proved unsuccessful, Ingham declared that the vote had been passed illegally and had an injunction served on the Academy which barred it from acting on the new constitution. The dispute was eventually resolved, yet Ingham remained estranged from the Academy for the following seven years. During this period he travelled extensively along the Atlantic seaboard in search of new commissions. In 1858 he resumed his affiliation with the Academy and in 1860 he was, again, elected vice-president. At the annual meeting following his death he was remembered: "He was often a member of the Council, was for several years Vice President, and allways [sic] earnestly advocated what he thought to be the true interest of the Institution. He was a man of extensive information, frank and impulsive in character and often gave offence by the fearless energy of his opposition. His bitterest opponents respected his abilities, his conscientiousness, and many independents."

© Copyright Ownership: National Academy Museum

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