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 James Henry Hagaman  (1866 - 1946)

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Lived/Active: New York/Michigan      Known for: portrait, pastoral landscape and religious themed painting

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Ad Code: 4
James H Hagaman
from Auction House Records.
Woman with Jeweled and Rose Bloom Headdress
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
James Henry Hagaman (1866-1946)

According to historical records, James Henry Hagaman was born on June 28, 1866 to Silas and Emma Hagaman of Rochester, New York.  When James was just five years old, his mother passed away.  Silas Hagaman remarried in 1876, his second union being with Celina Crouch whose father was a prominent local businessman.  Their marriage produced six children.  

One of James’ first jobs as a teenager was as a sign painter.  He was a close friend of another fledgling artist, Frank Vincent Dumond, who would later achieve fame as an American impressionist.  Per the Dumond papers in the archives of the Smithsonian: “In the fall of 1885, following the advice of his friend and fellow sign painter, James Hagaman, DuMond left Rochester and entered the Art Students League….”

In his early twenties, James Hagaman emigrated to Europe to further his artistic education.  From 1889 to 1890, he attended the prestigious Academie Julian in Paris, studying with Benjamin-Constant, Lefebvre, Laurens, Gérôme, and Doucet.  Hagaman had a wide circle of friends and traveled the continent with fellow painters, Ernest Peixotto and Louis Loeb.

 “Before he went home, he (Peixotto) wanted to round out his European experience with an opportunity to study the great masterpieces in more of Europe’s fine art galleries. On May 19, 1891, Ernest, Sidney and two friends, Louis Loeb and James Hagaman, began a trip that took them to Belfort, Basel, Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Bonn, Berlin, Brussels, Ghent, Rotterdam and Amsterdam…. Loeb and Hagaman remained in Strasbourg while Ernest and Sidney went on to Heidelberg.”  [Source: Ernest Clifford Peixotto: American Artist: A Biography by Ernest D. Peixotto]

Hagaman, who resided at 20 Rue Mazarine in Paris, exhibited at the city’s famous Salon in 1890 and 1891.  Inclusion of one’s work in the Salon show was a high honor that is better appreciated when it is understood that of about eight thousand subjects offered, only three hundred were selected for the exhibition.  The artist continued to exhibit in Europe until the mid-1890s when he returned to the United States.  Art periodicals report Hagaman as residing in Detroit, Michigan at the turn of the twentieth century.  He was also a member of the Art Club of Philadelphia and exhibited at the renowned Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1903 and 1904.

By 1910, Hagaman had relocated to Brooklyn, New York. At this point in his career, he was well-known for his evocative portraits, landscapes, and pastoral scenes.  Unfortunately, the artist became embroiled in the scandalous murder of a young boy which was closely covered by the major newspapers of the day:

The New York Tribune, January 4, 1910, reported on the case: "The boy came to his death by violence …. This statement was made last night by Dr. Charles A. Wuest, a coroner’s physician of Brooklyn, as a result of an autopsy which he performed yesterday on the body of the boy who was found on Sunday, partly clothed, in a room in the home of Emerson Colburn, an architect, living at No. 1055 Herkimer Street, East New York. Colburn and James Hagaman, an artist, of No. 149 Henry Street, are being held pending a rigid investigation by the Coroner. The police last night said they believed the boy was John C. Vickers…. Colburn, the police say, admitted that he had been convicted in February 1901, on a charge made against him by Joseph Paulson, fifteen years old, of No. 230 Howard Avenue, Brooklyn. Hagaman told the police he had painted pictures now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in the Pennsylvania Academy.”

James Hagaman pleaded guilty to assault in the third degree and received a sentence of eleven months.  Emerson Colburn was convicted of sodomy and sentenced, on April 19, 1910, to imprisonment for sixteen years.  However, the Governor of New York later granted him a pardon.  

Not much is known about the artist subsequent to the Vickers murder case.  It appears that his career began to wane after the trial.  Federal census records of 1930 show James Hagaman as having returned to Rochester. According to family members, Hagaman never married.  The artist died on January 11, 1946 and was buried in the family plot in the local Mount Hope Cemetery.

Published examples of paintings by the artist include: babes in the wood, a scene of nude bathers and mermaids, sheep in a bucolic landscape, an exotic Oriental woman painted in 1893, a scene with a young girl, canals in Holland, a milk boat, and various portraits.

James Henry Hagaman is listed in the following art reference books: The Artists’ Bluebook by L.P. Dunbier (2005); Davenport’s Art Reference by R. Davenport (2005); Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975 by P. H. Falk (1999); American Art at the Nineteenth-Century Paris Salons by L. M. Fink (1990); Annual Exhibition Record, 1876-1913, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts by P. H. Falk (1989);  and The American Pupils of Jean-Leon Gerome by B. Weinberg (1984).

1)    Explication Des Ouvrages De Peinture, Sculpture, Architecture, Gravure, Etc. by Societe des Artistes Francais: Salon de Paris (1890): James H. Hagaman, Rue Mazarine, 20 (exhibition # 1162).
2)    Annual Exhibition of Watercolors & Pastels, Vol. 7 to 16 (1895) by Art Club of Philadelphia: James H. Hagaman, 22 Witherell Street, Detroit, Michigan (exhibition # 67 entitled Babes in the Wood).
3)    Deutsche Kunstlerbund by Verein Bildender Kunstler Munchens “Secession” (1896): James Hagaman, Paris (exhibition # 133 & 133a).
4)    American Art Annual, Vol. 4 by American Federation of Arts (1903): James H. Hagaman, 22 Witherell Street, Detroit, Michigan .
5)    The Biographical Record of the City of Rochester & Monroe County N.Y. (1902-1903)
6)    Various articles from online newspaper archives (1910)
7)    Public Papers of the Governor (NYS - 1919)
8)    The Frank Vincent Dumond Papers, Archives of the American Art Journal, Volume 13, No. 1 (1973),
9)    Ernest Clifford Peixotto: American Artist: A Biography by Ernest D. Peixotto (2010)
10)    Online genealogical records

Compiled and submitted by Tina Kasper of Pelham, New York (copyright 2012).

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Charles Hagaman Carroll:

I am the great great nephew of James Henry Hagaman,who was born June 28, 1866 in Rochester, New York. He was the son of Silas Wallace Hagaman and Emma Fowler. James' mother died when he was 5 years old. Not much of his life is known, but he did study art in Paris with Benjamin-Constant, Lefebvre, Laurens, and Gerome.

I have not found any of his paintings in major gallery's or museum's. He did painting of several picture's for family member's and they remain in the family. James Henry Hagaman died January 11, 1946, and is buried in Mt Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York. He never married.

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