Henry Herman Cross
(1837 - 1918)
Henry Herman Cross was active/lived in Illinois, California. Henry Cross is known for portrait-Indian, genre, horse-races.
Born in Flemingville, New York, Henry Cross became a reputed painter of
Indian portraits and racehorses and was described by Buffalo Bill Cody
as the "greatest painter of Indian portraiture of all times." (Samuels
116) He was a perpetually adventurous person who, as a teen-ager
ran away several times to join a circus and then at age sixteen,
traveled to Paris where he studied with animal painter Rosa Bonheur
between 1853 and 1855.
Returning to the United States, he
earned a living painting animals on the sides of wagons and traveled
West, again working with a circus. For the first time, he saw
real-life Indians, but they were tame because they were circus
spectators. His experiences during this time stimulated his
interest in Western themes.
In 1862, after having had a
portrait studio in Chicago for two years, he moved to Minnesota during
the Sioux uprising with the intent of painting the Indians President
Abraham Lincoln had sentenced to death for the massacre of white
settlers. During this period, he learned to speak the Sioux
language, and Buffalo Bill Cody referred to him as "the greatest
painter of Indian portraiture of all times" (Harmsen "Western
Cross, described as a "plump, bespectacled man
with a walrus mustache" (Samuels 116) left a rich legacy of
portrayals of Indian genre and their interaction with white military
civilization. Among his subjects were all of the Sioux Indians
sentenced to death by President Lincoln because of their violence
against white settlers. This included a portrait of Sioux Chief
In the late 1880s, he began to paint Indian
ceremonies and in the 1890s, visited Hopi pueblos in Arizona and
painted the Snake Dance.
The Gilcrease Institute of Tulsa,
Oklahoma has one of the most comprehensive collections of his Indian
chief portraits, and other collections are in the Chicago Historical
Society and the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
He spent the last few years of his life living and painting in French Lick, Indiana. He is buried next to his brother, a talented stone sculptor, in the Sulphur Creek Cemetery. This cemetery is very near to his home and the cave operated by his brother, Ferdinand, as a tourist destination for the visitors to the renowned French Lick Springs Hotel in the latter part of the 1800s and early 1900s.
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
Peter Hastings Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Doris Dawdy, Artists of the American West, Vol. 1
Dorothy Harmsen, Western Americana
Born in Flemingville, NY on Nov. 23, 1837. At age 16 Cross went to France to study with Rosa Bonheur. He then traveled with P. T. Barnum's circus as a wagon and sign painter during the 1850s.
He was in California during 1864-65 to paint the horses of Lucky Baldwin. He later painted portraits of Kit Carson, Wild Bill Hickok, Sitting Bull, and other famous westerners.
He later settled in Chicago and died there on April 2, 1918.
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis); Chicago Historical Society; Gilcrease Inst.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"Artists of the American West
(Samuels); New York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America
(Groce, George C. and David H. Wallace); Artists of the American West
(Doris Dawdy); American Art Annual
1918 (obituary).Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here