George Henry (1858 – 1943), Irvine-born artist who studied at the Glasgow School.

The well-known artist, George Henry, was born in Irvine in 1858 at the brewery on the Low Green. He studied at the Glasgow School and he and his friend, E A Hornel would become prominent members of what was known as the Glasgow Boys, a group of artists who flourished in Glasgow from the 1870s to the 1890s.

Much of Henry’s work was influenced by his nature studies in Kirkcudbright. His most famous painting is his ‘Galloway Landscape’ (1889) renowned for its strong colour and decorative character. It shows a hill, a burn and some cows. However when it was first shown at the Glasgow Institute, it was greatly criticised and together with other paintings by the Glasgow Boys, was put in a separate room called the Chamber of Horrors by the Hanging Committee at the Institute. In 1890 a local paper described the painting as “it may be clever but it is not art”. Henry did not continue with this style of art.

At this point Henry became ill and left Kirkcudbright and moved to Ayrshire.

In 1893 Henry and Hornel went to Japan and spent 18 months there. Their style was much influenced by this stay. Unfortunately many of his canvases, including ‘Geisha Girl’ were ruined on the return voyage. When they moved to London he became a successful portrait artist. He was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1902 and an Associate of the Royal Academy.

Ninety-three of his paintings can be seen on the web site Art Uk.

Further Reading

George Henry at ArtUK