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HENRY "HARRY" BROWN BAKER
(American, 1868-1941)
COWBOY ON A BRONCO
gouache on illustration board
22 x 15 in.

Provenance: From the artist to his New Jersey landlord; by descent to the landlord's granddaughter; to Shane Newell, The Baker Studio Collection, Massachusetts.

Other Notes: Stamped H.B. Baker, Harry Brown Baker (1868-1941) Frank Alva Parsons New School, verso.

Grogan & Company thanks Dr. Alan McNairn, a former curator of the National Gallery of Canada, for providing the below information about the artist.
Harry (given name Henry) Brown Baker was born in 1868 in Spencer, West Virginia. At age fifteen Baker travelled west and settled in Shawnee, Kansas. It was perhaps Frederic Remington's success in peddling pictures in Kansas City to locals that inspired Harry Baker to seek firsthand material for his own art.
After marrying Maude Claire Hainer of Emporia, Kansas, in 1897, Harry Brown Baker moved with his bride to Oklahoma City where he earned a living as a travelling salesman for the McAlester Fuel Company of McAlester, located in the Choctaw region of Indian Territory. Travelling through Indian Territory that had been opened to white settlement by the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, Baker was a witness to the clash of cultures on the southern frontier and the life of cowboys and settlers. With the exception of some inspiration from Remington, it is probable that Baker was a self-taught artist. He achieved a measure of success in selling his work to eastern publishing companies as illustrations for use in the bourgeoning market for low-priced books of adventure stories about life in the west.
Harry Baker's limited commercial success with his art perhaps motivated him to seek out serious instruction. At the time Paris was the location of art schools favored by American artists so in 1904 Harry and Maude, who was also a self-taught artist herself, took the train to New York and sailed to Europe. The formal instruction he received in Paris had an important effect on Baker's preferred profession and, upon returning home in 1906, he became a full-time artist and illustrator of books and magazines. He continued his studies at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, founded by William Merritt Chase in 1896, where he became a protege of Frank Alva Parsons (1866-1930). Promoted to be director of the school, Parsons hired Baker to teach life drawing. Baker and Maude moved again to Paris for the 1927-28 academic year where he taught at the New York School's Paris ateliers. Baker continued teaching at the New York School (subsequently known as the Parsons School of Design) until his death in 1941. He was survived by his wife who passed away in 1946.
With no descendants Baker bequeathed the contents of his studio to his landlord. His paintings and paper records were eventually divided. Most of the artworks were acquired from the descendant of the landlord by their present owner and the paper records and photographic negatives were donated to the New School in New York.


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