Sandham, Henry

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Sandham, Henry

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Born and educated in Montreal, Henry Sandham (1842-1910) began his artistic career working for the William Notman photographic studio as an assistant to John Arthur Fraser, the head of the art department, probably around 1860. When Fraser moved to Toronto in 1868, Sandham became head of Notman's art department and later became a partner in the business (1877) whereupon the studio was renamed Notman and Sandham. During the 1870s, Sandham developed his skills as a painter and illustrator and took part in the artistic life of Montreal, exhibiting frequently both there and in Ontario. An active member of the Canadian Society of Artists, he was made a charter member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1880. While he remained a partner with Notman until 1882, Sandham left Montreal in April 1880, studying in England and France before moving to Boston in late 1880. There he continued his work as an illustrator of books and magazines as well as a painter of portraits, landscapes and historical subjects. An important commission was his well known painting of the Battle of Lexington "The Dawn of Liberty", begun in 1886. Sandham left Boston for Europe early in 1901, finally settling in England some years later. He continued his work as an illustrator and painter, exhibiting several times at the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts. Although his historical and imaginative works are now regarded as "rather sentimental," Sandham excelled as an illustrator and was a keen observer of the lands he knew firsthand - Canada, California, Haiti, and the Azores. He was part of the landscape movement in Canadian art at the time of Confederation and his paintings and watercolours on Canadian subjects, notably that of Sir John A. Macdonald (1889) (now hanging in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa) and his scenes of the St. Lawrence River, the Gaspe, and the Maritime provinces, are currently judged to be "the most outstanding of his works." Henry Sandham died in England in 1910. A commemorative exhibition of his works was held at Earl's Court in London in 1911. (Sources: Pierre B. Landry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, Henry Sandham Artist's File held by the Clara Lander Library, Winnipeg Art Gallery, and Dr. Stephen J. Kostyshyn.)


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