After studying under Alexandre Cabanel at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Thomas Hovenden (1840-95) began an exemplary career as a painter and teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Along with his contemporaries there, Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anschutz, Hovenden acquired a reputation for being both an influential instructor and a talented artist. A realistic genre painter and recorder of everyday activities such as those involving home and family, Hovenden had a particular gift for choosing subjects with wide recognition and appeal.
His work reflects a Victorian ethos; unlike many artists of the time, however, Hovenden's work featured African American subjects in domestic settings.
His firm belief in sentiment and beauty as the goals of artistic pursuits is evident in the nostalgic paintings for which he is best known, such as The Last Moments of John Brown, in which Brown is depicted stopping on his way to the gallows to kiss a young black child. This first full-length study fosters a greater understanding of Hovenden's gifts as a painter and of his stylistic contribution to art.
Chronologically organized, it is both a retrospective of Hovenden's work and a critical biography of the artist.
The volume features many of his paintings, studies, and sketches, some reproduced for the first time. A Barra Foundation Book