Harry Fenn (1845-1911)
An illustrator for William Cullen Bryant's book Picturesque America and a painter associated with the Hudson River School of painting, Harry Fenn was born in Surrey, England on Sept. 14 1845. He trained as a wood engraver before becoming a painter. One of his strengths was his ability to capture highly detailed topographical scenes, and much of his work was intended for reproduction.
He arrived in the United States in the mid 1860s purportedly to see Niagara Falls. He stayed for six years, went to Italy for art study, and then returned to illustrate his first book, Snow Bound by John Greenleaf Whittier. A second book illustration followed, Ballads of New England. These publications were the "first illustrated gift books produced in this country, and they marked an era in the history of book making."
In 1870, Harry Fenn traveled extensively in the United States including to California for the project, Picturesque America. In 1873, he went to Europe and the Orient for subsequent book illustration projects, Picturesque Europe and Picturesque Palestine, Sinai and Egypt. These books brought him fame. In the early 1900s, he went to New Orleans to do color illustrations for My Winter Garden by Maurice Thompson.
In the United States, Harry Fenn had a studio in New York City and lived in Montclair, New Jersey. He was a founder of the American Watercolor Society, the Salmagundi Club and the Society of Illustrators. He exhibited in New York at the National Academy of Design and the American Water Color Society. Other exhibition venues included the Boston Art Club, the Brooklyn Art Association, and the New Orleans Art Association.
One of his well known paintings is View of the Colt Residence, home of the famous arms manufacturer, Samuel Colt. Palisades, Hudson River is one of the paintings that groups him among the Hudson River School painters. It is a view of the lower Hudson along the shores of New Jersey and depicts the steep perpendicular walls of trap rock and fissures of the Palisades.