McLenan was working in a pork-packing plant in Cincinnati, drawing in his spare time. Illustrator DeWitt C. Hitchcock discovered his talent around 1850, and c.1854, McLenan moved to New York City, where he became a prolific newspaper, magazine and book illustrator. Over fifty books published between 1852 and 1866 contained his work, including Dickens' Tales of Two Cities and Collins' Woman in White. He also painted in oils.
McLenan was a member of the New York Sketch Club. He died in March of 1865 at the age of thirty-nine, leaving a wife and three children.
The New-York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564-1860, by George
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