Thomas Hovenden, Subject Painter

(b. 1840, d. 1895)

Subject Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Was born at Dunmanway, Co. Cork, on 23rd December, 1840. His father, Robert Hovenden, of English descent, was Keeper of the Bridewell in that town; his mother, Ellen Bryan. Losing his parents he, at the age of 6, became an inmate of the Cork Orphanage, and when 14 years of age was apprenticed to Mr. Tolerton, carver and gilder in Cork, with whom he served seven years and afterwards worked as a journeyman. Mr. Tolerton discovering his talents for drawing paid for his instruction in the Cork School of Art. In 1863 he went to America, and there, while engaged in business during the day, he pursued his art studies at the night school of the National Academy of design in New York. In 1874, determining to adopt art as a profession, he went to Paris where he spent six years at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and for a time was in the studio of Cabanel. His first picture, "The Two Lilies," was exhibited in 1874. From Paris he went to Brittany, where a little colony of American artists was established at Port Avon. Of his many pictures painted at this time a scene in La Vendée during the Revolution, "In hoc Signo vinces," was exhibited in the Salon in 1880 and was much praised. In this year he returned to America, and in 1881 married Helen Corson, an artist. He opened a studio in New York and for some years painted pictures portraying negro life. He was a member of the National Academy and of various art societies. He met his death on the 14th August, 1895, in endeavouring to save the life of a little girl on a railway crossing near Norristown, Pennsylvania. Among his pictures are "Breaking Home Ties," "Jerusalem the Golden," "Bringing Home the Bride," "Elaine," and "The Last Moments of John Brown" now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

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