Henri, Robert (1865–1929) By Stenz, Margaret
Robert Henri (born Robert Henry Cozad in Ohio) is best known as the leader of the Ashcan School, a group of Realist painters who portrayed New York City life in the first decades of the 20th century. His works ranged from tonalist landscapes, to full-length portraits of socialites and performers, to an extensive series of ordinary people from different cultures, many of them children. At the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1886, Henri adopted a Realist style, which he honed in Paris at the Academie Julian. Back in Philadelphia, he taught at local art schools and in 1892 formed the Charcoal Club. This informal weekly discussion and sketching session included John Sloan and other local newspaper illustrators, who Henri encouraged to become painters of contemporary life. Henri studied the works of Diego Velázquez, Rembrandt, and Frans Hals on several more European trips. In 1900 he settled in New York with his wife Linda Craige (ca. 1875–1905). Henri’s early works included small landscapes influenced by Whistlerian tonalism, such as La Neige (1899). He established his career, however, as a painter of large-scale figure paintings. He was invited to join the Society of American Artists and the National Academy of Design in 1903 and 1905, respectively.