Thomas H. Hinckley (1813-1896)

Thomas H. Hinckley (1813-1896)

Like so many 19th century artists, Thomas Hinckley transitioned through a number of artistic careers prior to settling on his choice profession. He first tried his hand with sign and decorative painting, raised his status to the accepted field of portraiture, and then finally incorporated the more recently discovered subject matter of animal painting. These genre scenes, are for what he is best remembered, combining a Hudson River School mastery of the landscape and a Sir Edmund Landseer adeptness with the animal form. 

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Hinckley lived out his life on the small farm on which he was born in Milton, Massachusetts. In 1845 he built himself a studio, and that same year received his first of many important commissions; Daniel Webster requested that he paint his renowned herd of Ayrshire cows. Hinckley’s oeuvre would come to encompass an especially focused genre of work, as he catered his paintings to the interests of his neighbors and friends. From their prize cows and hunting dogs, to the wild elk and deer that they pursued, Hinckley captured these subjects with grace and eloquence through his exquisite brushwork and color.

Exhibiting nationally at prestigious venues such as the National Academy and Pennsylvania Academy, Hinckley felt it necessary to join his colleagues abroad, and in 1851 departed for London. His impressions of this trip were recorded in his account book: “Visited during an absence of four months Manchester, Sheffield, Rotterdam, London & vicinity.…Returned perfectly satisfied that there is No place like Home.”1 Hinckley would remain devoted to the wild life, domestic life and land of his nation, and would execute 478 combined landscape and animal pictures over the course of his career.

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