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 Henry Walke  (1809 - 1896)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: coastal views, war genre, graphics

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Ad Code: 4
Henry Walke
from Auction House Records.
The Landing at Tabasco
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born at Ferry Plantation in Princess Anne County, Virginia, Henry Walke combined his duties as a naval officer with watercolor and oil painting of landscape and marine scenes. His work included harbor scenes in Honolulu and sketches of Brazil that he later made into oil paintings.

Henry Walke spent much of his life traveling from place to place beginning with his childhood. At age two, he moved with his family to Ohio; in 1812 to Norfolk, Virginia; and in 1820, when he was age 12, back to Ohio where they built a home at Chillicothe.

His naval career began in 1827 when he, having been enrolled in the Naval School in Norfolk, Virginia, was appointed a midshipman, and then served throughout the 1830s in the Pacific and East Indies. This brought him into contact with Oriental art, which remained an influence on his painting.

In 1836 he was attached to the USS "North Carolina", and his travels by ship took him to South America. where he made sketches in Brazil and elsewhere, and later elaborating them into oil paintings.

In 1844 he was attached to the USS "Bainbridge" on the Brazil squadron. He served in the Mexican War in 1847 and participated in the captures of Vera Cruz, Tuxpan, and Tobasco.

By 1855, he was promoted to Commander and remained a reservist until the outbreak of the Civil War. His Civil War career was controversial. He was court martialed for rescuing, against orders, his fellow officers, their families, and civilians by moving them out of Pensacola, Florida, but he was reinstated and supported General Ulysses S. Grant in his first battle, which occurred at Belmont, Missouri in November, 1861.

Shortly after that, he was in the Battle of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River as Commander of the "Lafayette", an ironclad ram, and from September 1863 to the end of the war, he was Commander of the "Sacramento", searching the Atlantic Ocean for Confederate ships. In 1866, he commanded a naval station in Illinois and a year later retired as a Rear Admiral.

He moved to Brooklyn, New York, and devoted himself to his artistic talents and recording his adventures on paper. Many of his sketches were lithographed including ones he did for the books he wrote: "Naval Scenes and Reminiscences of of the Civil War" and "Naval Scenes in the Mexican War".

Henry Walke died in Brooklyn in 1896.

Sources include:
Katherine Emma Manthorne, "Tropical Renaissance"
David Forbes, "Encounters With Paradise"

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

Henry Walke is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Civil War Art
Painted in Latin America
Artists who painted Hawaii

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