Artifact Corner: Episode 14

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to Artifact Corner. Today we will be looking at two portraits. The first is of Henry Webb, who was married to Francis Henrietta Delord. The second is of his brother, John Webb. Both of these portraits were painted by the same man, Henry Inman. Henry Inman’s name is not as well known today, in comparison to say a Rembrandt or a Da Vinci. But, in the early part of the 1800’s, Henry Inman was one of the most popular and celebrated artists of his day.

So, let’s explore this amazing artist. This is a portrait of Inman painted by Jacob Hart Lazarus in the late 1830’s. Henry Inman was born in Utica, NY in 1801. His father was born in England and emigrated to the United States, and set up a brewery in Utica. In 1812 his family moved to NYC for Henry to serve as an apprentice for seven years, under the artist John Wesley Jarvis. Jarvis was a portrait artist as well, and you can see his influence over Inman. Their styles are very similar.

In 1821, he finished his apprenticeship, and settled into working in NYC. In 1822 he married a woman named Jane O’Brien and took on two pupils. During this period he also started painting landscapes, like the one we see here. He was also instrumental in forming the National Academy of Design, and he became the organizations vice president in 1826.

For the next two decades Inman’s life was spent teaching, painting commissioned portraits, and egan working with a lithographer doing prints for publication. He was involved in land speculation, and unfortunately lost a good deal of his wealth. His health was never good, he had chronic asthma, and in the early 1840’s his condition began to deteriorate. He was invited to go to England to paint some commissioned portraits. He spent a little over a year working in England, and returned back to America in late 1845. He spent two months in a sick bed, before succumbing to his chronic asthma. Inman was given a lengthy funeral procession through the streets of Manhattan, a testament to his popularity.

Inman’s work lives on in many museums. His works are featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and many more. We have five paintings done by Henry Inman, in large part thanks to the Webb family. Henry Inman and John Webb were friends, and thanks to that, we have these incredible portraits in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Music: Acoustic Breeze by Benjamin Tissot