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Henry Ary
American
(1807? - 1859)

Henry Ary
Overlooking the Hudson River Valley, oil on canvas, 24" x 32"


Henry Ary
Overlooking the Hudson River Valley, oil on canvas, 24" x 32" (Detail)

As little documentation exists regarding the life of Henry Ary, he remains a rather shadowy presence in the history of American art. Recent years, however, have seen increasing attention to Ary as a seminal figure in the development of the Hudson River School. Ary was born in either Hudson, New York or in Providence, Rhode Island sometime in the first decade of the nineteenth century. He is known to have practiced portrait painting in the Albany area before relocating to Catskill, New York, where he probably knew Thomas Cole and certainly fell under his influence. Cole may, in fact, have been instrumental in persuading Ary to shift from portait to landscape painting. By 1844, Ary had located in Hudson, New York. He eventually secured a position teaching painting at the Hudson Female

Academy, where Elihu Gifford, father of Sanford Robinson Gifford, was a trustee and where Sanford’s sister was a pupil. The exact relationship between Gifford and Ary is unclear, but they apparently went on sketching trips together in the Catskills, and the older painter was undoubtedly a major influence upon the young Sanford Gifford. Ary was also known to have been an instructor to the young John Bunyan Bristol.

Ary’s existing paintings document the scenery along the Hudson and in the Catskills. He was particularly fond of panoramic landscapes containing the town of Hudson and nearby Mount Merino. His panoramic landscapes are more invitingly picturesque than sublime and stress the evidences of man’s habitation. Ary exhibited during his life at the National Academy of Design and at the American Art Union in New York. He died early in 1859.

Work by Henry Ary can be found in the Brooklyn Museum, the Albany Institute, and the Hunter Museum of Art (Chattanooga).



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