Thomas Hovenden Gallery
Thomas Hovenden (December 28, 1840 ?C August 14, 1895), was an Irish-American artist and teacher. He painted realistic quiet family scenes, narrative subjects and often depicted African Americans.
Hovenden was born in Dunmanway, Co. Cork, Ireland. His parents died at the time of the potato famine and he was placed in an orphanage at the age of six. Apprenticed to a carver and gilder, he studied at the Cork School of Design.
In 1863, he immigrated to the United States. He studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City. He moved to Baltimore in 1868 and then left for Paris in 1874. He studied at the École des Beaux Arts under Cabanel, but spent most of his time with the American colony at Pont-Aven in Brittany led by Robert Wylie, where he painted many pictures of the peasantry.
Returning to America in 1880, he became a member of the Society of American Artists and an Associate member of the National Academy of Design (elected Academician in 1882). He married Helen Corson in 1881, an artist he had met in Pont-Aven, and settled at her father's homestead in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. She came from a family of abolitionists and her home was a stop on the underground railroad. Their barn, later used as Hovenden's studio, was known as Abolitionist Hall due to its use for anti-slavery meetings.
He was commissioned to paint a historical picture of the abolitionist leader John Brown. He finished "The Last Moments of John Brown" (now in the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco) in 1884. His "Breaking Home Ties", a picture of American farm life, was engraved with considerable popular success.
In 1886, he was appointed Professor of Painting and Drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, replacing Thomas Eakins who was dismissed due to his use of nude models. Among Hovenden's students were the sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder and the leader of the Ashcan School, Robert Henri.
Hovenden was killed at the age of 54, along with a ten-year old girl, by a railroad locomotive at a crossing near his home in Plymouth Meeting. Newspaper accounts reported that his death was the result of a heroic effort to save the girl, while a coroner's inquest determined his death was an accident.