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 John Henry Dolph  (1835 - 1903)

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Lived/Active: New York/Ohio      Known for: cat portraits, genre and landscape paintings

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Ad Code: 3
John Henry Dolph
from Auction House Records.
Outskirts of the Village
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
John Henry Dolph, is best known as painter of domestic animals, especially cats. He was born in 1835 in Fort Ann, New York, and spent much of his career there, although from 1857 to 1861, he worked in Ohio as a portrait and landscape painter. He also tried to find work in Chicago.

Moving to New York City in about 1865, he attracted attention with his scenes of American rural life, especially farm genre and animal life. Then for five years Dolph studied in Paris and Antwerp, where Louis van Kuyck tutored him in his specialty of animal painting, particularly horses.

After returning to New York City by 1872, and finding his farm scenes not very popular, Dolph tried painting portraits, medieval genre and architectural studies.  Again, he had trouble finding an active market, but another type of painting did find buyers---dog and cat subjects, and especially cats.  These subjects became so popular for him, that finally he devoted himself exclusively to it and was described as the "leading cat painter in America" in the September 1894 issue of Quarterly Illustrator.  It was common that subtle bits of humor were woven into these paintings.

Active in the New York art scene, he had a studio in the Sherwood Building* in Manhattan, but also kept a country home on Long Island.  He was elected an associate member of the National Academy of Design* in 1877, and a full member in 1898. Other memberships included the Lotos*, the Salmagundi*, and the Kit-Kat* clubs. He exhibited, and won a medal, at the Pan-American Expo* in 1901 in Buffalo.

Heart disease, however, plagued Dolph for years, and it was said that in his final days he become frustrated when he could not finish a painting of a favorite animal.
He died in New York in 1903 in the home of a close friend.

His daughter, Florence, donated a majority of his works, and other Dolph art holdings, to The University of Nebraska Art Collection at the Sheldon Museum in Lincoln. Additional pieces are in the collection of The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

John Davis, "John Henry Dolph", Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design, David Dearinger, Editor

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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