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Robert Henri, American (1865-1929)
Selected Biographies

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Excerpt from The Robert Henri Museum, Cozad, NE:

Robert Henri’s Story
Considered one of Americas greatest art teachers, painters, head of The Eight and the style of painting which was referred to as the Ashcan style of art. 

Robert Henry Cozad was born to John and Theresa Cozad in, we now believe, Spence’s Station, which later became Cozaddale, Ohio. John founded the town of Cozaddale in 1871. Between 1872 and 1873 John founded and settled in Cozad, Nebraska.

In their youth, Henri and his brother John Jr. only lived in Cozad during the summers and attended the Chickering Classical and Scientific Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The family lived in Cozad for approximately ten years until an altercation with a local rancher, resulting in the death of the rancher, necessitating the family to assume new identities. Mr. Cozad became Richard Henry Lee, Mrs. Cozad became Tessa Lee, John Anthony Cozad became Frank Southrn (correct spelling) and Robert became Robert Henri (pronounced Hen-rye).

Fearing for his life, John J. Cozad left town the night of the shooting in October 1882. John Jr. was already in Colorado conducting family hay business so Robert and Theresa remained in Cozad long enough to sell the family home in 1883 to Stephen Hendee.

Mr. & Mrs. Lee and their sons (who they said were adopted nephews) eventually all reunited in Atlantic City, NJ where Mr. Lee had purchased property on the Boardwalk. The oldest son then went to medical school and Robert enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Through the years Henri studied at several institutions and become a renowned artist, art teacher and author (The Art Spirit). His influence on art in America greatly impacted art – he introduced impressionism to America. This museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of Robert Henri through vast research material, the museum which was his home for a time and more original sketches housed here than any other place in the United States.


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Excerpt from Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney, NE:

Robert Henri (1865-1929)

Robert Henri,(pronounced HEN-rye) one of Americas greatest artists, had a Nebraska connection which remained unknown until the 1950s. Born Robert Henry Cozad in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1865, he came to Dawson County, Nebraska at the age of eight. His father, John J. Cozad founded the town of Cozad in 1873. The outcome of a legal dispute with neighbors ended with a death and caused the elder Cozad to leave Nebraska in 1882. His family soon followed. The family settled in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The father changed his name to Richard Henry Lee, and Robert and his brother posed as foster sons, taking the names Robert Henry (later Henri) and Frank Sothern. In 1886 Robert Henri enrolled in an art school in Philadelphia and then studied three years in Paris. After teaching in Philadelphia at the Woman’s School of Design, Henri returned to Paris and lived there several years. Henri taught at various academies and founded the Henri School. He was the leader of the "Ash Can" group who pioneered realistic paintings and who believed that artists should have freedom of expression in art. A book about Henri, The Art Spirit by Marge Ryerson, is well-known to art students and to art lovers. Mari Sandoz wrote a novel, Son of a Gambling Man, which is based on Robert Henri’s Nebraska childhood. Henri died in New York City on July 12, 1929.


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Additional Information

Robert Henri: Related Links on Art in Context


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Robert Henri, American (1865-1929)
b. June 24, 1865, Cincinnati, OH
d. 1929


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