The Henri Gallery Records
Henri Gallery opened in Alexandria Virginia on South Royal Street in 1957 to exhibit Washington Color School painters as well as emerging artists. These 55.4 linear feet of records document Henri’s relationships with artists and clients alike as well as exhibitions and sales activities at this 55.4 linear-foot gallery.
Henri Henri’s vibrant brushstrokes and simplified forms greatly influenced younger artists such as Ashcan School painters John Sloan and George Bellows, as well as Henry’s collection which contains such masterpieces as Whistlerian Young Woman in White and Catharine (both at Henry).
Early Life and Education
Henri began showing Washington Color School artists such as Gene Davis and Thomas Downing at his gallery in the early 1900s. Additionally, Henri taught art classes that promoted self-discovery among his students who later went on to become major twentieth century artists themselves; these methods are documented in his influential 1923 publication entitled ‘The Art Spirit.
Henri became well-known for his portraits and figure paintings depicting everyday sitters with democratic approaches to portraiture and figure painting. Utilizing Hardesty Maratta’s color theory principles in his work and believing colors should blend like musical chords to achieve congruent pictorial effects, Henri was a vocal critic of New York’s art establishment and organized independent exhibitions without juries or prizes as early critics of hierarchical practices in New York’s art scene.
Henrietta Ehrsam, commonly known by her initials Henri, opened an eponymous gallery on South Royal Street in Alexandria, Virginia in 1957. Later it relocated to 1500 21st Street NW in Washington D.C. where it showcased artists associated with both the Washington Color School and emerging talent.
Henri also inspired and taught an entire generation of aspiring painters. He encouraged them to develop individual artistic beliefs without conforming to elitist or academic styles of his day; Henri particularly enjoyed portraiture, often depicting gypsies, Indians, Chinese-Americans and society types in his works.
Cozad Museum and Art Gallery boasts the largest collection of Henri paintings in the US. On July 29th 2023 they will present an exciting program on his book ‘The Art Spirit at 100’; there will be a reception immediately following this presentation.
Achievement and Honors
Henri became well-known during his long career for painting people in an intimate, realist style. His subjects ranged from gypsies, Indians, Chinese-Americans and society types – which he often referred to as “my people”. His paintings attempted to capture each sitter’s dignity, individuality and unique personality.
Henri actively supported artists outside of the academic mainstream. He organized exhibitions featuring paintings by his colleagues, as well as helping arrange the 1910 Armory Show which showcased progressive realist works by Luks, Glackens, and Sloan painters.
The Henri Gallery Records span 55.4 linear feet, documenting their relationship with artists and clients, exhibitions, sales, and other business operations. Donated between 1980-1981 in three accessions by Henri’s daughter Helen Schnoebelen himself; later supplemented by Helen herself after her death in 1996 – processing funding was provided through Gary R Libby Endowment of University Gallery.
Henri was born into an aristocratic family at Chateau de Malrome near Albi in Tarn, France and displayed artistic ability early on, which was nurtured and encouraged by both parents and teachers.
Henri completed his formal studies at both the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris before beginning to instruct younger painters such as William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Shinn John Sloan and George Bellows – eventually coming to be known collectively as “The Ashcan School”.
Henri established the Henri Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 1960, which displayed works from Washington Color School painters as well as newer emerging artists. When Henri Gallery closed in 1996, its records were donated in three tranches from 1980-81 by Henri himself as well as by Helen Schnoebelen himself in 1996.
Henri Petiet hails from a family renowned for their longstanding service to France over two centuries in administration, politics and military affairs. His ancestor Claude Petiet played a pivotal role in winning the Battle of Marne that secured its independence for France.
Henri Petiet died at the age of 86 with one of the largest collections of modern prints held privately, which had never been made public, although public sales may have achieved millions in revenues.
Henri Gallery was established on South Royal Street by Henrietta Ehrsam and Florie King in 1957. Donations were received between 1980-81 and 1996 from three accessions donated by these women, funded through Smithsonian Institution Collections Care Preservation Fund processing costs.