By Darla McCammon
We continue our search for Christmas artists with a lovely piece by Henry A. Bacon titled “Christmas Prayer,” dated 1872. In 1839, Bacon was born in Haverhill, Mass. We know little about his art training and background in his youth and teen years, but we do know it was sufficient for him to become a field artist for the Union Army. When he was 22, he enlisted during the horrific American Civil War. He served in this capacity providing art for Frank Leslie’s Weekly as an enlisted soldier. He remained active with the 13th Massachusetts infantry group until he suffered an injury at the famous conflict of Bull Run. He was badly wounded during the fighting and on Dec. 19, 1862, he was sent home with an honorable discharge.
By the time of the war’s conclusion, Bacon had married Elizabeth Lord. He had also taken up art studies with Walter Gay. It was suggested that Bacon obtain a more formal education to enhance his reputation as an artist. Gay suggested that a trip to Paris would be beneficial. He contacted the National School of Fine Arts and in 1864, Bacon and Lord arrived in Paris, where Bacon enrolled to study figure painting. His first instructor was Alexandre Cabanel. Bacon was a quick study and his credits as an artist grew. Taking advantage of being overseas, Bacon and his wife became tourists. They traveled to Brittany and fell in love with Pont-Aven.
Upon their return to Paris, Bacon remarked favorably about Pont-Aven and is now given credit for the many artists who also fell in love with the beauty to be found at Pont-Aven, including Gaugin. It was so successful that it became known as the Pont-Aven period.
Growing in expertise and gaining critical acclaim, Bacon exhibited at the famous Paris salon from 1868 through 1896 with genre works sought after by the American art market. Like many creative people, Bacon found a secondary talent in journalism. He regularly reported events from overseas to a media outlet in Boston.
Bacon discovered a fondness for Egypt and it became his retreat for the winter months. It was here that he became enthused about watercolor as a medium. He switched from oil to watercolor because of its incredible ability to portray light with those transparent paints. He never returned to America to live, but finally settled in Cairo, Egypt, where he died in 1912. His talent is obvious as you scrutinize our Christmas pick this week.
Upcoming and Current Events
Please contact Darla McCammon at (574) 527-4044 or at [email protected] if you have an event to mention.
- Through Dec. 28, photography by Florida artist Darlene Romano will be on display at Warsaw City Hall Gallery, 102 S. Buffalo St. It is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday except holidays. Online views of more work by this artist can be found at www.darleneromano.com.
- The Gallery at Rua will be on display through Jan. 12, 2019, at 108 E. Market St.
- There will be a Mary Alice Estep exhibit from the first week in January 2019 through March. Please contact Darla if you have paintings by this artist we can share with our community.