Harry Fenn (1845-1911)

Born in England in 1845, Harry Fenn first trained as a wood engraver before embarking on a career as a painter and print maker. In the mid-1860s, Fenn came to the United States to visit Niagara Falls and ended up staying for six years. He left to pursue further art studies in Italy, but returned to the U.S. to illustrate his first book, “Snow Bound,” written by John Greenleaf Whittier. The success of this first illustration project lead to more work and Fenn’s second book, “Ballads of New England.” These two books were the first illustrated gift books of their kind in the United States. They were important milestones in the history of American book making and created great renown for the artist.

In the 1870’s Fenn traveled extensively around the country for numerous illustration projects. One such trip brought him to western North Carolina for his landmark book “Picturesque America,” published in 1872. On this trip Fenn created some of his best loved art in a region of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, NC. Later in his career, Harry Fenn concentrated more on his watercolor painting. He was a member of the New York Watercolor Club, the Society of Illustrators, the Salmagundi Club and founding member of the American Watercolor Society. Harry Fenn had his main studio in New York City and lived most of his years in America in Montclair, New Jersey.

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