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 Patrick Henry Davenport  (1803 - 1890)

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Lived/Active: Kentucky/Illinois      Known for: naive portrait painting

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Ad Code: 3
Patrick Henry Davenport
from Auction House Records.
Portrait of former Illinois Governor John Reynolds
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Kentucky Historical Society:
Patrick Henry Davenport, who became a noted portrait painter from the 1820s into the last quarter of the 19th century, was born in Danville, Kentucky at the Indian Queen Tavern, which was operated by his parents. Later his father became a brigadier general in the War of 1812. The parents were committed to educational excellence, and the father was a trustee of Danville Academy which the children attended.

Patrick began portrait painting in Kentucky on his own at age fifteen, and his art training was not formal, although he may have had some lessons from Matthew Jouett, Kentucky portrait painter. It has also been written that Asa Park, who did a portrait of one of Patrick's brothers, was also an inspiration.

As a very young man, Davenport assisted Oliver Frazer in painting the full-length portrait of George Washington at the Old Capitol building in Frankfort.

In 1827, he was married at Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Eliza Ann Bohannon, a native of Georgia, and they returned to Danville where they lived with Patrick's widowed mother. Subsequently they had eight children.

By that time, his career was already successful because the year of his marriage he had a commission to paint the wife of Kentucky governor Isaac Shelby. To support his growing family, he was, until 1853, the popular proprietor of the fashionable Crab Orchard Springs spa, a fashionable watering place in Lincoln County, Kentucky. However, much of his activity was traveling around to small towns, doing portraits of prominent persons.

He worked in Indiana from 1850 to 1870, and then moved to Lawrence County Illinois, near Evansville, where he and his wife purchased a 200 acre farm and lived there the remainder of his life. One of his biographers, Edna Whitley, believed that his work of that period showed declining skill in that it was more anatomically correct but lacking in emotional commitment. From that time, most of his sitters were residents of southern Illinois, many of them neighbors, and he did a number of child portraits.

Patrick Davenport died at age 88 at Sumner, Illinois, and was active almost to the time of death. He signed his paintings in various ways: Henry Davenport, P. Henry Davenport, and P.H. Davenport.

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